This was the year! July, 13th, 2015 to be exact! It was the day that I had to “FACE THE MUSIC”, as it where.
This past week, after 8 years, I DEACTIVATED my Facebook account. Yep, the professed “Facebook Queen”, did what she never had any plan to do. I love Facebook! In fact, I couldn’t go a day without checking my Facebook page, checking updates and giving a few updates of my own. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, I remember the day I got Facebook, while sitting in one the the apartments of the students we worked with at Campus Ministries. While ministering at the University of MI, and working with the college students, it was proposed that I should get an account to stay in touch with the student groups on College Campus Ministries. Everyone had one, and so this was going to make staying in touch with them easier. At that time, Facebook was really just colligate students, and it didn’t seem too much different than email, accept…you could put up a cool picture on your profile! That was it! So, I started my page and thus began my growing love affair with Facebook.
At first it wasn’t so bad. The occasional message from a student, or updated pic. but then I a whole new world opened up when you could do funny little photos with Mac computers. They had a cool camera that allowed you to make faces and different colors and shapes, then that added a new exciting feature of being able to change your Face profile ever day, perhaps even more. Soon after came the “smart phone camera craze”, that allowed you to take pics and upload them to Facebook. It soon caught on quick to others and eventually became not just a college thing, but a PEOPLE things. Now, friends and family were on it. From there came the phenomenon of telling people how you feel every moment of the day, being able to show them how you feel, and you being able to comment on their feelings and them yours. But really, I knew Facebook had reached main stream when my Mother got a Facebook page. YES, my mother was not on Facebook, making comments, liking pics and even becoming friends with some of my friends, that I didn’t really find out about until one day checking their comments page and finding that they were on first name basis, lol. My entire family now has a Facebook account. Yep, my aunts and uncles, cousins….and I am pretty sure my grandmothers would have one if they were here, lol.
Yes, it was cool to stay in touch with everyone and my parents could see their grandkids growing up, even though we didn’t live in the same state. We could send videos and just have a good time. Then seeing my friends from way back, from childhood, high school and college. Reconnecting was pretty cool, and nice to see how everyones lives had grown and changed. We all had families of our own, or perhaps just living life. But some where down the road, Facebook took a turn for me. It became more than just a social media site to connect with family and friends.
I bought into the growing popularity of ‘SPEAK YOU MIND, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE THINKS”. I mean, it was “MY PAGE, MY OPINION”, right? Somehow, I also bought into the idea that I had a right to comment on everyone else and their opinions and life. Yep, if you posted it, that meant it was out there for all to see and thus, fair game. So, that became the next obsession. Seeing what was the new thing in news and media to take notice of and then being apart of the social discussion, which often times turned into fights, nasty words and typing battles. It could get pretty intense and most times, it seemed as though nothing ever really was fixed or solved. Yes, points were made, but humanity being improved or changed as a result of “Key Fights”, not so sure about that one.
For me, about 2 yrs ago, I began to see a change in myself, a change in how I viewed people, the world, events, and issues. Now, that is normal for sure, because as you live this normally happens right? I mean, we are exposed to what is happening in the world and around us on a daily basis and we form opinions and make judgement calls every day…that’s normal. But, becoming judgmental and making choices without really knowing the entire story, and just hearing one persons point of view. Perhaps not even really hearing, but catching snippets from scrolling videos attached from youtube or peoples personal pages. You find yourself becoming wrapped in a THE SCROLL of information and not being able to stop. Once you start scrolling and seeing and then catching the end of an argument or discussion and wanting to put in your 2 cents, only to notice later that the real discussion was about Eggs and not Religion or Race. Yep, anyone and everyone could jump in and stir a pot that had gotten too full and out of control. Possibly get your feelings hurt, or hurt someone else feelings because you can’t possibly help people see your tone is not ANGRY or JOKING with just typing. But, then emoji’s came out and surely this would solve that problem. You could just put a smiley face right by your comment to help them to see, “I am saying this in a nice way…see my smiley face?” . Only to really be mad deep inside knowing you really didn’t mean it in a nice way, but you just wanted to end the argument or not be attacked by the other folks who might read your comment and take it the right way and thus begin to dog pile you and…….yeah. Perhaps there should be a Facebook 101 on the “Dos and Don’ts” to help with these issues.
Then, you quickly realize that you can’t control everything, not even your friends list. See, your friends have friends, that may not be friends that you would be friends with and say things that you don’t say or do things you don’t do, post things you would not enjoy looking at or listening to. So you had to begin to really be watchful of THE SCROLL. Yes, THE SCROLL could get you in trouble. You know, scrolling through looking at pics of dogs and cats, then all of a sudden come across a pic or video of naked people or some kind of nasty comments that now is etched in your mind and you can’t get it out of there! Yes, you could remove it from your feed, or delete it from your view, but once you’ve seen it, you seen it. Thus, you have to work really hard to try and get your mind away from it. Pornography and all kinds of things just scrolling through the feeds, and you become afraid to let your kid sit next to you while on the computer looking at funny pics from family because you just never know what will be there. Then having to explain to your kid why the can’t look at Facebook with you because it’s not really safe and then here them say, “Well, why are you on there there if that is the case?” Yep, the “You know their right” moment.
So, my last straw was this year. This year was particularly hard for me because while I could, block, unfriend, and delete somethings, there were other things that just hit deeper than even just a picture or profane language. I understood that people are who they are and live what they live and believe what they believe and I don’t have to agree, and I could still be there friend. However, I was faced with how 1, “By beholding you do become changed”, and 2, I have in the last several months read more mean, racist, angry, fearful, doubting, taunting, divisive, offensive, shocking, rude, insensitive, untrue, unfair, unChristlike, and every other word I can think of, comments I have ever seen on here. As a Christian, woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, sister, as a African American, a even a friend, it broke my heart to see what we had become as people on social media.
While social media may be a great place to gather attention for a social cause, beliefs, event, or issue. It can never be a place to solve a real problem and bring resolve. While it brings us to a large audience to share our thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes and such, we can never really hear the full story, and get the big picture. While we can post our feelings and share our joys and sorrows here, we can never find completeness. While we can foster friendship and build some kind of community here, it can never take the place of real friendship, and community. While we can express our love here and feelings for people, we can never really find true love just sitting on Facebook. While we can see videos and news clippings here about injustice and wrongs done all over the world, we can never really find a place to develop real long lasting solutions to be a help to humanity. We can raise funds and bring notice and awareness to causes. But, we can never really cure the diseases and help those in need by just staying on the site and not going out to touch humanity. Also, everything doesn’t need a comment or a like. Sometimes, somethings are better left unsaid because they won’t uplift, help, or encourage, and are just unbalanced and discouraging, no matter how “Truthful” they might be. Others are misguided and abuse the minds of those who read them.
I realized that Facebook had for me, been a false sense of relationship and community. It kept me in my seat, rather than getting up and getting out here doing something for others and enjoying life. It had caused me to prejudge situations, circumstances and people (both for the good and for the bad). It had given me a sense of “This is it” when it came to having relationships with others. It had taken away my ability to reach beyond the keys to get to know someone, and think a picture was worth a thousand words. Which in fact a picture is only a few words and worth about 1 thousand assumptions. It made me cynical, and not trust people. It made me doubt relationships, and friendships. It made me trust when it really hasn’t been earned. It caused me to get frustrated more than having patience. It through me for a loop and made me excited and upset about things that were really not that serious. It made me feel like I had to SAY SOMETHING or I would BUST! For all of the good I like about Facebook, had a far worse impact on my life than I could ever imagine. I don’t think that is Facebooks fault, but my own.
Now, 8 years later, after having my Facebook marathon and running this course, I realized that I was not a social media sluggard. Please don’t take offense to this, because I am not against social media. I love it, but for me just a little too much. I am not saying that you are a social media sluggard. But, for myself, it was time to let go for a while. It had taken 8 yrs away from my family, my work, my dreams and from having real social time with friends. It took time away from GOD, that I really couldn’t afford to loose, if you know what I mean. It had become a GOD of sorts and I realized I had to let it go.
So, I had to FACE the Music and step away from Facebook for a while. How long will I be away? Who knows, perhaps a month, perhaps a few months, perhaps a year, and I may never come back. I really don’t know! But I do know this for sure….I don’t ever want anything to take as much time as I took with Facebook in my life, other than GOD and my family. Funny thing is, if I could add up all the hours I had spent on FB over the past 8 years, I pretty sure the business I wanted to start probably would be very successful.
Lesson learned…I hope. But, if not, I’ll see you on the News Feed.
P.S. To all of my readers who have “spelling/writing/grammar anxieties”, my blog probably will give you a heart attack, so please be warned, lol.