Last year I decided to fall off the face of the earth.
I deactivated my Facebook and it was the most freeing thing I have ever done. I handed my password over to my roommate and told her she couldn’t give it back to me until I moved out. No one knew what was going on in my life. No one could know unless they actually saw me in person and have this thing called a conversation, which people need to relearn how to have. Not only were people clueless about my life, but I had no idea what was going on in theirs. You would think this is a bad thing, but It really isn’t. Having conversations and catching up with people in real life, without checking their Facebook page, is a good thing.
I went without Facebook for the semester and I reactivated it two days before I left for Costa Rica, where I spent four months living with a host family and studying at a university. Every part of me wishes I could go back and just not post my experiences from while I was living there.
On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I kept getting comments and likes from my “friends” and when I got back from my trip people asked me about it expecting to hear about how great it was. I would expect that kind of answer too based on my social media. People were taken by surprise when I’d tell them how it actually was. I told them what happened between the highlights and they were caught off guard. I will tell you right now that my time in Costa Rica was far more difficult and not nearly as enjoyable as my Facebook page made it seem. I experienced and saw much more than I can even comprehend. I am still processing that trip, which was one of the most challenging experience of my life. My Facebook was Fakebook. It told a different story.
For anyone who knows me, they know that this past year has broken me down in more ways than one. One of my greatest convictions has been social media, specifically Facebook. I allowed my use of Facebook to impact me and have power over me. I found myself struggling. I saw my life as a distortion of lies. I didn’t start to see things clearly until I took a step back. After doing so, I was able to reflect and realize a number of things.
Facebook was my Idol. I wish I could add up the number of times I’ve turned to Facebook instead of God. I found myself more likely to start my day on Facebook rather than talking with the Lord. After experiencing a detachment from Facebook, I became more attached to God and less to my profile. When I am by myself, the first thing I turn to isn’t my Facebook page. I’ve been learning that it’s Him I need to seek first. This isn’t rocket science when it comes to the Christian faith, but it’s important to think about what’s keeping us from putting Him first. For me personally, I allowed Facebook to distract me from my relationship with God. I let it replace Him. I can tell you right now that because I’ve refocused my life, Facebook is no longer my idol.
I made an idol out of myself. Not only was Facebook an Idol, but through it I was making myself an Idol. I did this by highlighting my life and making it seem greater than it actually is. I would only post pictures and statuses that made me seem as though I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. Although I am a pretty great person and you should get to know me, my Facebook only showed the good things. It was modified to show people what I wanted them to see. How are we supposed to share what’s really going on? We don’t want to highlight the things in our lives that make us look bad; we want to look as though we have it all together. I wanted to have control and I was believing lies about myself. I was looking to Facebook to try and shape who I was rather than allowing God to define me.
I couldn’t just live in the moment. I was focusing more on taking pictures. Every moment had to be shared. Whether it be a day with friends, a sunset or a plate of food, I had to take a picture of it because I wanted to remember and share it. It had to be captured. Whenever I was doing something with friends, I couldn’t leave without proof that I was hanging out with people. That way I could show the world that I am social. I have a life, a good life. I would compare my profile to others and do what I could to make mine better. I wanted to generate more likes because that’s all that matters, right? How ridiculous is that? Am I crazy for thinking this way, or are there others out there who catch themselves comparing their lives too? I just couldn’t take it anymore and since I stepped back my mind has been much more present. I don’t care about my profile or my pictures any longer.
Facebook took up way more time than I want to admit. I wish I could take back the hours and days I’ve spent scrolling and clicking through Facebook. I know I am not the only one who has wasted more time than I’m willing to admit. Scrolling through the newsfeed is distracting from reality and it is addicting. I would log onto my account to check something “important” such as a message or an event date. Instead, though, the first thing I would do is click that attractive little red flag in the top right corner. I was a stalker. I was completely addicted. After I spent over an hour scrolling through a dozen profiles and commenting on posts, I would try to remember why I logged on in the first place. I’d then feel guilty over how much I could have actually done in the time I had just wasted on Facebook. I claimed I was using it to keep in contact with people and to know events, but it was taking me away from living my life. We tend to use Facebook for so much more than we say we do.
The more time I spent on Facebook the more depressed I’d get. This was a defining realization in my time from Facebook. As I detached myself from my profile, I honestly saw myself becoming happier. Before, when I was attached to my account, I found myself spending more time alone and on Facebook feeling bad about the things my friends were doing that I wasn’t. Seriously, how dumb is that? I literally spent my time staring at a screen feeling bad for myself even if I had just gotten done hanging out with other friends. That should be a wakeup call. I’m embarrassed about this one but hey, I’m willing to admit it and because I am set free I am not ashamed anymore. Social media will only have power over your happiness if you allow it to.
I was becoming lazy in my friendships. Whenever I would think about one of my friends and wonder how they are doing, the first thing I would do would check out their profile. It’s was so much more convenient than calling a friend up and telling them that you miss them. Isn’t that sad? I would hardly go out of my way to contact my friends because their Facebook updates told me everything that was new. Facebook makes “friendships” easy but are they even real? I much rather prefer to spend time with my friends in person. I prefer to keep most of my pictures off social media and share them in person. It’s nice to actually talk about my experiences with people when I catch up with them. Has there ever been a time where you started telling a story and then one of your friends says, “oh yeah I remember seeing that on Facebook?” Well then what’s the point? We let social media be social for us.
My “friends” didn’t really know me. People had this belief that they knew me because they were my friend on Facebook. My profile had thousands of pictures from since I was in 7th grade, which I can tell you was quite fun to stalk. Yet, it really started to creep me out after a while because people could know so much about me without even really knowing me that well. I remember this specific time when I met someone on campus and introduced myself. He claimed he already knew me because we were friends on Facebook. Weird. We have never had a conversation in real life, why the heck were we “friends” on Facebook? I got into the habit of accepting every friend request that came my way because I felt popular. I mean, I had well over 2,000 friends. But were they all my friends? Did they even know me? Now I won’t be friends with people unless I have an actual friendship with them. People now have to go out of their way get to know me in person. If you want to know me you have to get to know me. You can’t just click “add friend” in order to be my friend.
The list goes on, but basically I couldn’t live with my Fakebook profile anymore. I couldn’t keep living a Fakebook life. I was sick and tired of highlighting my life and not living in the moments. I still want to be available to people, but I am trying to learn how to do so without getting sucked into the same routine. I’m debating if I want to even post this blog post on my profile. I feel that convicted. After realizing all these convictions, my biggest question is what am I going to do about it?
I created this new Facebook page, and before you judge me, this time it’s different. I have a very simple page with just a cover photo and profile picture. That’s it. I try and keep my Facebook wall blank. There’s pretty much no information about me on my profile. I don’t post photos, when people tag me in photos I don’t accept them on my wall. I have this account for people to contact me, that’s pretty much all. I’m not trying to highlight myself any longer.
Honestly, I don’t even use Facebook much anymore and there’s a pretty good chance I get rid of it again. I don’t have all the answers to life or how to live perfectly. You don’t have to get rid of Facebook in order to live a better life. This is just something I’ve been doing because I realized I was abusing Facebook. I want to spend my life living, not hiding behind a screen and letting my life be consumed. I prefer to live in the present in the moments that matter with the people who matter.
Not everyone struggles with Facebook to the extremes that I have. If you’ve actually read through this post, I challenge you to think about how you use social media. Do you take time to get to know someone before you friend them on Facebook? A lot of us need to relearn how to be social instead of letting media do it for us. Sometimes it’s nice to just disappear for a while (deactivating your Facebook isn’t permanent). You don’t have to go to the extremes like I did, but I would recommend making necessary changes if you’ve had some struggles of your own with Facebook. Just be aware of how you are using your social media. Do you tend to build up yourself rather than others?