This time last year, yes 1 year ago, I made a very clear realization–Facebook was stealing my joy. The realization came after seeing so many posts from “friends” who were attending fancy Christmas parties with their spouses. I remember thinking, “I want to get all dressed up and have a nice dinner and take a lovely picture with my handsome husband.” And that’s when it hit me.
Several things simultaneously occurred to me: 1. most of those friends actually hate going to work Christmas parties, 2.most of those friends never get date nights with their spouses and some don’t even like spending time with their spouse, 3. it’s not even a possibility for me–we own a small business (an outdoor retail shop)–when and why would we EVER get dressed up? 4. my husband takes me on dates at least once a month, and we love spending time together, traveling, and doing athletic things outside.
So after a serious chat with my husband, I ditched Facebook. I deleted it from my phone and didn’t look back. After about a 4 month hiatus, I gradually went back to the drug (yes, it’s a drug.) But here’s what I learned in the process:
- It’s not reality.
Pretty simple idea, but life on Facebook isn’t the real world for anyone. We all just put the best pic, the best perspective, the best foot forward so that our lives will look perfect to the world. If we look perfect, portray perfect, then we’ve reached perfection. We’ve set the bar higher than our neighbor–and that’s what Facebook does–makes us think the bar is higher than we need, and so we strive to attain what’s not reality.
2. It made me want what I can’t have.
I wanted to wear a formal dress and sit at a fancy dinner and dance party. Why? Because others got to do so. It actually made me wonder what else I wanted and couldn’t have. I don’t need what everyone else has. Isn’t that the lesson I’m constantly trying to teach my girls? ‘Don’t be a spoiled brat. That’s great that someone else has x but it doesn’t mean you need it.’ Those words were haunting me.
3. It took my eyes off of my TRUE identity.
My identity as a Christian woman is to serve God, so how was Facebook helping me do that? It wasn’t. Instead of reminding me that I was made in the image of God, it told me I need to look like a certain image. Instead of encouraging me to serve God and His Kingdom, it told me I needed to serve myself and my own kingdom.
4. It changed my expectations.
I scrolled through Facebook on an hourly basis and unknowingly was establishing my expectations for myself and my family. I was needing to meet running goals because others were. I wanted to post about my children’s successes because others were. I wasn’t looking at myself and my family and asking, “are you meeting God’s expectations?” Gut check.
5. It made me feel empty and lost, instead of seen and fulfilled.
I scrolled through Facebook searching.I posted on Facebook multiple times a day to prove that I existed and I was fulfilled–needing those “likes” and “comments”. I sought what never fulfilled me. If enough people didn’t “like” or “comment,” I felt empty and invisible. Yet, I have a family who loves me. I have a God who sees me. I have friends who want to have coffee and lunch and girl’s nights with me. This should be enough.
6. It made me part of the problem.
Yes, I was also at fault. I thought back to my previous posts: “Thankful my child can attend a private Christian school.” –Did that frustrate a friend who can’t afford to send her child? “Got another 8 mile run in today!”–Did that anger a friend because she doesn’t have someone to watch her kids so she can go for a run? Or sadden a friend with an injury who physically can’t run? This realization sucked the breath out of me. Instead of being an encourager, I was adding to the problem. I was quite possibly hurting friends around me by creating impossible expectations.
7. It made me competitive with my friends.
Let me start by saying I’m competitive by nature, but Facebook didn’t help. Last November, I signed up to run 3 half marathons in a row–all were about 7-8 days apart. During the 2nd race, my back was so badly injured I could barely finish the race without walking. My body was telling me it was time for a break. Trying to do what was best for myself, I didn’t run the last race–the Route 66 in Tulsa. However, almost ALL of my running friends ran it. I sat on the couch that Sunday afternoon and cried reading all of the posts about their times and splits and pics of medals and all the things I should have had and didn’t. I was competing with friends who weren’t my competition. Facebook makes us think we have to do what someone else is doing and then do it better. The problem is, we aren’t all designed that way. We can’t compete with our friends; we need to support the successes and encourage in times of trial and despair. Some people are very good at acknowledging the success of others without feeling competitive or jealous. I was not that person.
My Facebook hiatus was a good time for me to grow and mature and learn a lot about myself and what God desires for me. Stay tuned for part 2 of this story: 7 Things I Learned When I Ditched Facebook.
Wishing you peace on Facebook,