(not my photo. No copyright infringement intended.)
About two weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook app from off my phone; and that one tiny act has literally changed my life.
I don’t know why Facebook is such a time-waster for me. Instagram? I can hop on, scroll for a couple minutes, and hop off. Pinterest? I usually get on when I’m looking for something specific. Again, it’s very easy to close the app or the tab from the top of my laptop. But Facebook? If there was a tiny little number in the upper right corner of the app, I had to know why. What did I get tagged in, was there was a reply to my controversial comment, or how many “likes” did I get on the picture or paragraph I just posted? And if it’s a tab on the laptop, it’s as easy as clicking on it to see what the notification is for, and then clicking right back to whatever I’m doing. (Or getting sucked into stalking the profile of that one person who never likes my stuff but suddenly has. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Want to know something embarrassing? Until typing the end of this paragraph, I had that silly tab open at the top, waiting to see who “reacts to” the picture I just posted.
To be honest, I didn’t even realize how much much of my time disappeared when I got on Facebook. Even if I tell myself I’m “just checking my notifications,” all of a sudden ten, fifteen, or more minutes have passed. Seriously, Tuesday after I deleted the app, I was in the middle of my morning routine (which we’ll come back to shortly) when I thought, “Why not check Facebook real quick while I eat breakfast? I have enough time.” And I did have enough time. . . to get out the door on time without running around like a chicken with my head cut off. All of a sudden, ten minutes were gone and I had to rush out the door to not be late to work. Where did those precious minutes go? And why did it throw off my whole morning?
I don’t exactly have the answers to how or why Facebook sucks up my life like an angry vacuum, but I can tell you this: being on it far less than before has been incredible.
Back to my morning routine. I have to be honest: as soon as my alarm went off, I immediately grabbed my phone. Usually to hit snooze. But after the snooze went off, I would lay there, on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, checking my notifications and my “On This Day” memories. And when all the notifications were checked, I would head to Instagram. And Poshmark. And Pinterest. And email. It was like Facebook was the trigger to obsessively check ALL the notifications, as soon as I woke up. It was like I couldn’t get enough of social media when I was barely awake.
It was a toxic habit. I have read several articles recently about how it’s not a good idea to be on your phone as soon as you wake up, especially on social media (which, if we are on our phone wasting time, that’s probably what we are doing). I would tell myself that it helped me wake up. Have you heard the information about how you shouldn’t be on your phone before bed because the lit-up screen makes you more alert? I told myself that by getting on my phone right away, it helps me wake up. Whether that is true or not, it still messed up my morning in two different ways. Actually, it messes up my whole day in these ways.
First of all, it usually wrecks my mood. When you get on social media, what do you see? People pretending their lives are perfect or complaining about how they’re not, and politics. So I become discontent with my life, irritated that people feel the need to complain so much, or angry at political or controversial topics my friends have posted! None of those are good things to be experiencing as soon as you wake up. It affects your mindset for the morning, which usually ends up affecting your entire day.
Second, like I mentioned, it eats up my time. There are countless better ways for me to be spending the hours in my day. Even if I just “hop on” while watching Netflix or waiting for dinner to cook, I’m convinced now that there are better ways I could be spending even those small moments. Why not just enjoy the show? Why not simply sit down to rest while the food cooks, or straighten up our apartment, water my plants, or text that friend I’ve been meaning to go out for coffee with? And ultimately, friends, social media takes away from time with the Lord. How many mornings did I waste time on social media while laying in bed, when I should have gotten up and read my Bible? When I waste time scrolling aimlessly instead of spending meaningful time with the Lord, I’m saying to God, “You are not important. This is more important. I’ll get to You later.”
Third, it takes away from time I spend with those around me. This really goes along with the above paragraph, but it is worth mentioning. In the mornings, if I have extra time that Josh and I can be spending together before we head off to our workplaces, why would I waste it on social media? The same goes for our evenings together. I understand there is nothing wrong with doing your own thing sometimes; but for the majority of the time, I want to spend as much quality time with my husband as possible. His concerns, thoughts, ideas, and happenings during the day should be priority to me. Why would I be concerned about what other people are doing with their life when the most important person in my life is sitting right next to me? Even if it’s not about time with my husband, I should still make an effort to put my phone down and connect with those around me, whether I’m at church, running errands, or hanging out with friends or family.
Lastly, it makes me feel like I need to change or be a certain way. More honesty here: I spent a lot of time thinking about funny, inspirational, or otherwise quality things to post on social media. I don’t think there is anything wrong with posting encouraging and truthful things; in fact, people have thanked me for things I’ve posted and I so appreciate that. But for me, at least mentally, I had gone to the extreme. I would plan ahead, when we were going somewhere or planning an event, what I would post on Facebook about said trip or event. Again, maybe this is just me! But I doubt it. Spending too much time on social media, as I mentioned before, leads to discontentment. “Why doesn’t my hair look like that? Why can’t I bake such amazing goodies? Why don’t I have a puppy? Why doesn’t my house look like that? Why is that person more successful than me? Why am I not as spiritual as that person?” Our pastor said the other day during a sermon, “I want to be more spiritual than people think I am.” How utterly backwards is that from our culture of Facebook Christianity? Don’t we all want people to think we are super spiritual, super Christlike, super perfect? Over the past few weeks, I’ve done some serious analyzing of myself. And I realized that sometimes I do try to make myself seem more spiritual, more knowledgeable, more godly than I am. Ouch. I don’t want to be like that anymore. And I don’t want to make decisions about what I wear, how I style my hair, what I make for dinner, how I decorate my house, or what job I have based on what people in the social media-verse think of me. Because, to be truthful. . .
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is how I spend my time, having a growing relationship with Christ, and the relationships with those closest to me. Everything else is just extra.
Hardly gracing Facebook with my presence does have its challenges. How will I know when so-and-so has her baby? How will I know where so-and-so went on their vacation, or that another person got a new job? How will I start or carry conversations when I know nothing about what they’ve been up to? It may sound like I’m being facetious, but I am quite serious. We live in an age where everyone knows everything about everyone. At least, we think we do. So we think that’s enough.
I have a friend who goes to another church who has not been on Facebook in months. I hadn’t seen her in a while, but when I saw her a few weeks ago, I struggled to find something to talk about! What was going on in her life? How does she spend her days? What has she been doing for the past half a year? But you know what? I want to have more encounters like that, because I want to have to work to connect with people. And I want people to work to connect with me.
There has been stuff going on in my life–emotional battles, life decisions, challenges–that most people don’t know about. But most people don’t ask when they see me, because it doesn’t really matter to them. Rightly so, in most cases! I long for real, genuine, deep relationships. If my life isn’t important enough for them to ask about, so be it. But when they want to know, they’ll ask. And when I want to know about your life, I’ll ask. And we can connect on a deeper level than “In a Relationship,” “Started New Job,” or “– feeling meh.”
I know Facebook has its merits, I do. We can use it to connect with people in a healthy way. I’m just opening up about what deleting the Facebook app from my phone has done for me. If I want to get on now, which I have to sometimes because I am an online leader in a group, I have to use our laptop. And that is not as subtle or simple as picking up the phone and “just checking.” I have to have a reason to get on. No more mindless scrolling. No more wasting time wondering what people are up to. No more posting multiple times a day. No more constantly checking to see how many people “Liked” my stuff.
Life has been good since Facebook has been gone from my mobile device. My mornings flow better (although that snooze button is still a struggle, man). My work day is better because I’m not getting notifications. My evenings are better because I can be more present. My mind is better because I am making room to think about what is important. I definitely haven’t arrived yet with this whole being present thing, but I am getting there.
I want to be intentional. For me, deleting Facebook from my phone is a step in the right direction. And it is definitely in my top 5* best things I’ve done in 2018.
*Including road-tripping to North Carolina, celebrating our one-year anniversary, attending a new church, and watching God pull my brother through what looked like an impossible situation. 🙂