If you’re reading this blog post, then hopefully you’ve already read the first post–“7 Ways FB Stole My Joy.” This is part 2: the what I realized I learned by taking a Facebook hiatus for a few months. AKA What happens when you cut out the disease
Through tears and self-doubt, depression and worry, I finally had to step away from Facebook all together. That may sound pretty ridiculous. When I decided to do this last January, it was a struggle–after several conversations with my husband, I knew this was what I had to do, but how do I keep in touch with friends who live so far away? I will miss pics of kids and updates on friends! I had to make a drastic change and risk missing out. Cutting deep was the only way I could stop the bleeding in my own heart. With the app off of my phone, it forced me to communicate, connect, and find clarity in new ways.
- I paid more attention to those who matter.
This is difficult to admit. I wasn’t the mom who sat at the dinner table on her phone, but in the evenings or if I’m waiting in the car or just standing in line at the grocery store–I used Facebook as a way to escape, so deleting it forced me to ask my kids more questions, play silly games in line at the grocery store with the kids. I talked more to my entire family–I actually attempted talking to my husband more but he was on his phone! It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to them or that I avoided them, but I only wanted to be engaged on my terms, now (without FB) I was engaging with them so much more. It makes me sad now just reliving the realization. I also paid more attention to my friends. I asked them about their lives since I didn’t know them by their posts.
2. I found more joy in my daily activities.
Seriously. Folding laundry, going to work, running the kids places–those mundane life activities became more joyful because I wasn’t competing with a “friend” on FB who was vacationing in Mexico with her girlfriends. I could actually leave the grocery store and feel thankful and blessed because I can buy food for my family and cook for them without the knowledge that another “friend” was eating at a fancy new restaurant with her husband. The competition, the jealousy, the comparison was gone. I became a happier, more content wife and mom.
3. I connected with other people better.
I’ve never been one to have really close friends. I would have a few friends here and there, but then we’d part ways for some reason. I’ve worked to build relationships with other women over the last several years, but it’s so difficult, and Facebook didn’t really help. I think I was part of the problem all along. I relied too much on people knowing me based on my FB posts, and I valued my friends and judged them and even talked to them about what they posted. Facebook became more of a conversation started or friend-filter than anything else. So I began texting my friends, calling them, going to get coffee or lunch–I made significant attempts to connect on a level that wasn’t through Facebook. I felt close to others because I knew what they posted yesterday, but that didn’t tell me the reality of the situation. I knew the beautiful Christmas card picture she posted didn’t tell the whole story of their rocky marriage, but it wasn’t until I deleted FB that I actually asked my friend how her marriage was going.
4. My spirit changed.
My husband kindly pointed this out to me. After about a week he said, “you seem so much calmer and happier–like you’re not carrying around as much tension.” Wow. I hadn’t even realized it at that point–but he could tell. Because I was no longer consuming my mind and filling my heart with unrealistic expectations, unfair comparisons, unfriendly competition, or million dollar wishes that wouldn’t come true, I had become more of ME. I was a better wife, a better mom, a better friend–and all I did was erase what was sickening my heart and mind. It’s not that Facebook is bad, but it grew bad for me. It slowly diseased my heart and mind, and I couldn’t even see it. By cutting out the disease, the healthy Ashley could grow her heart and mind cleanly and happily.
5. I could more clearly see God at work and where He needed me.
Deleting FB was like someone had cleaned a dirty window. I could see that God was working in others. I could appreciate how other Christians used their talents for His kingdom. I have several friends who sing on Sunday morning in our church. They have beautiful, God-given voices. How could I be jealous of a friend using her talents for His kingdom? Instead I became to thankful that these ladies were using their talents to lead worship. It helped me to think more about my own talents and how I can use them for His kingdom. I was already involved in high school ministry–I was and still am leading a small group of senior girls, but it helped me to focus outside of high school ministry. How can I use my talents to reach college students or young moms? I spent time praying about it and looking for ways God could use me. The window had been cleaned so my heart was ready to help serve.
6. It changed my running.
Though there is only one post currently up, a good majority of this blog will be about running because I have so many friends who want advice on how to be a mom, wife, and runner. So stay tuned! However, deleting FB changed how I ran for about 5 months. First, I ran without my watch. Most runners will tell you they rarely run without their watch, but I did and it was freeing! Now, I also knew exactly how far each run was because I knew every course around my house, but I felt free just running for me. I didn’t have to run for a FB post or to “compete” against mileage or paces that others were running. I remember running early one morning and feeling so good about it. I normally would’ve posted about it, but instead, I told my husband all about my run. That was a great day–I could run, feel good about it, and not post it. Interestingly, because I wasn’t posting about my runs, people started asking me more about my running and how it was going.
7. I realized my addiction to Facebook and how to manage it.
Like I said in this introduction, I was addicted to Facebook. Cutting the cord and deleting the app was a horrible feeling but a quick recovery. I learned and gained so much more than I expected. I missed out on some posts here and there, but I stayed caught up through normal discussions with actual humans. After a few months, I told my husband I was missing the funny stories, the cute kid pics, and my kids’ class pages. First, I went through FB and unfollowed about half of my friends–especially those I felt were part of the issue. I didn’t unfollow them because of anything they had done wrong, but to protect myself. Hopefully this doesn’t make some of them mad, but I have to protect my heart and mind. I gained way too much to let the disease back in. Then, I didn’t put the app back on my phone. It’s still not on my phone. I force myself to use a computer or type it into google on my phone. It takes extra steps and extra time and ISN’T convenient in the grocery store or in the car. Plus, my kids don’t see mom on the phone. I tend to read/post/comment after the kids have gone to bed. By imposing limits and restrictions on myself, I hope to keep the disease away. (Note: I’ll be honest, the election didn’t help. I had to stay off of Facebook because the comments from people on BOTH sides were horrendous.)
During this process, I told some people what I was doing (well, I also announced it on FB–haha!) Interestingly, most people over 30 encouraged me, supported my efforts, expressed how they had thought about or needed to do the same thing. Not surprisingly, almost everyone under 28 was in shock. They asked me how I could stay off of social media, who would I talk to, how long would I torture myself, why would I want to alienate myself. See that’s the difference–I grew up in a time where we didn’t have cell phones or iphones or ipads or ANY social media. So I grew up knowing that I could exist without posting about it. I don’t think the under 28 crowd knows that. All they have known is phones and social media and existing through the web.
It was that final realization that made me change the way I handle Facebook and any social media outlet–for my children. I don’t want my children to think the only way they exist or are seen is through a post, a picture, a comment, or a “like.” This whole social media thing just. got. real.
Please feel free to comment, share, like, or email if you have thoughts or questions.
Wishing you freedom from social media,