In the early days of Facebook, I enjoyed connecting with friends and family. Those who lived long distance as well as in my area. Old friends and new friends, I loved interacting with all walks of life. As an extrovert with a bubbly personality, I've always thrived through communicating with others. To share similar interests with music and art. To swap the top beauty and fashion trends. To discuss our faith and spiritual beliefs.
Everyone has their own unique reason for being on Facebook. For me, it was the social aspect and the ability to widen my circle of friends. Some of the most incredible women who are encouraging, uplifting, and changing our world for the better have spurred me on to follow my passion for writing. They have had a remarkable influence upon my life to help me realize that I can turn my dreams into a reality.
In the first few years of using Facebook, it was not an everyday thing. I had a busy life working in the beauty industry as a licensed stylist specializing in makeup artistry and esthetic skincare. As an ADDer mom raising three ADDer children, it was hard enough juggling my chaotic life wearing many hats, let alone keeping up with social media.
I was foremost a mom who cooked, cleaned, and did my best to give my kids quality time. I wanted to be the kind of mother that I never had. To sit on the floor as I played with my children. To create silly stories as I tucked each child into bed at night. To fully participate in their lives to make sure they knew how valuable, worthy, and precious they were. Not just to me, but to God.
It's not that I wasn't important to my own mom. It's simply that she unexpectedly found herself alone raising five little girls by herself. In order to make ends meet, she was forced to work outside the home. There wasn't enough hours in the day for her to be Wonder Woman. Looking back, I know that my mother did the best she could with what she had at that season in her life. Truly, it was her courage and strength that has made me into the person I am today.
When I reflect on how Facebook has evolved through the years, I can't pinpoint when the shift started. All I know is that it was subtle. One slight change led to another. Over the years, as this popular website became the hottest craze, it was kind of like the frog that was placed into cool water in a pot on the stove. Not sensing danger, the frog stayed. Slowly, the heat increased in temperature. Yet by the time the innocent frog realized he was boiling in hot water, he was too weak to jump out and was cooked to death.
How does the frog analogy relate to you or me? In my opinion, I believe that over the course of these years, Facebook cleverly desensitized us. It was not overnight. Instead, their website changes that have occurred one by one were done in such a smooth manner that we didn't even realize it.
One example is the privacy issue. Gradually, Facebook has been chipping away at our privacy. Quietly, they have stripped us from having private accounts, regardless of our settings. Did you know that even if you are posting on a private group or secret group, Facebook can read and use that information?
According to Modern Alternative Mama in her article, If Privacy Matters to You, "They can (and do) share it with marketing partners. And if you post a picture of your kids and set it to show to close friends only, Facebook owns that image and could use it in advertising. Without letting you know first - because you agreed to it when you signed up."
In another article by Alex Hern on his website, The Guardian, he states, “Despite the fact that a privacy setting means that “only friends” can look me up using the email address and phone number provided, the company still feeds the information into its matching algorithms, meaning it's able to connect me in its own database with any other user who has uploaded their address book to the site.”
Remember that confidential message you wrote to your friend on Facebook recently? Well, it's not so private after all. As for your cell phone, your number, location, pictures, contact list, text messages, and personal information, from my understanding it's no longer private once we agreed to Facebook's policies. You can't opt out of it. Either, you agree and use Facebook or you choose to not agree in which you will not be permitted to have an account on this website. To sum it up bluntly: There is zero privacy on Facebook. (Do not just take my word for it. I urge you to do your own thorough research. There's plenty of credible facts and information available to gain more insight.)
If the lack of privacy isn't bad enough or that our lives have become an open book for the world to view, another reason for taking Facebook vacations is for pure sanity. In between the political battles, website bullying, adults with junior high behaviors, and downright verbal attacks, is it any wonder that we haven't gone mad? Through the years, I've noticed this negativity has escalated and become the norm.
Quite honestly, there are days when I'm scrolling through Facebook when all I see are critical, gloomy, and devastating posts. Someone's neighbor was killed in a car accident. The woman in my Bible study lost her job. A father's son was a victim of a home invasion. Two people are bickering over who should have become president. My friend's husband has been cheating on her. Someone's bashing another Christian for not going to church. At least a handful of people I know have been diagnosed with cancer and my mom is included.
...and my heart is breaking.
This world we live in is so troubled. On a daily basis, sometimes hourly, we're bombarded with traumatic and catastrophic events on social media. If we're really going to be real, let's admit that it disturbs us. Let's for one minute agree that sometimes being on Facebook is just too much. That being human means feeling someone else's pain, hurting when they hurt, and having compassion for those less fortunate.
Today, in preparation to write this post, I did a whole lot of soul-searching and self-reflecting. As I walked up the steps heading to my bedroom, I said out loud, "If Facebook has desensitized us so much, how come I feel so darn sensitive to everything? How come all of these sad posts overwhelm me so much that I must unplug?"
My eighteen year old daughter who overheard me softly said, "Mom, it's because you care too much."
So there you have it, my friends. I am guilty as charged. I care too much. Yes, I do wear my heart on my sleeve. However, I believe that caring is exactly what the Lord asks us to do. He says, "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)
My top purpose for remaining on Facebook is because I believe my author page is encouraging, gives people hope, and grows their faith. I share my own trials and tribulations as well as how I've overcome struggles to help people know that with God anything is possible. Countless times, I've received private messages or emails from strangers who somehow found me on Facebook to say that my books, blogs, or posts motivated them to not give up on themselves. Whether it's one person or a million, my mission in life is to have a positive impact.
While I've worked diligently on Facebook to create new content, I had to take a step back in 2016 to determine that it was depleting not only my time to write books, but my valuable time with my own family. Time management is a big issue for all forms of social media. I've read savvy articles about professionals who only spend fifteen minutes daily on Facebook. Seriously, I'm stumped how they can pull this off. Perhaps, they have a personal assistant or someone working for them? New authors usually don't have that luxury or the budget, which means we must work longer to get our names and material out there to build our platform. I have two things to say about that: Time-consuming!
This leads me to the next reason why I must refrain from spending all day and night on Facebook. It's easy to lose track of time. To get sucked into the cute picture of the precious puppy my friend shared or the hysterical post about my friend's wacky date with the cute guy she accidentally spilt coffee on at Starbucks.
You may log in to quickly check on what your friends are up to. Before you know it, two hours have flown by. Between status updates, wishing happy birthday to five friends, watching a live video, participating in a group discussion, and responding to a few messages, a large chunk of your time is gone.
...and you feel badly about yourself.
It can irritate you, disappoint you, or even cause you to feel guilty. You just wasted your morning, afternoon, or evening on Facebook. Or if you're like some people who are addicted to Facebook, you spent the entire day on this website. Just like that, POOF! You've lost track of the clock. How many of us have done this from time to time?
Last June, I knew that Facebook was stealing too much of my time. That's why I decided to take a month vacation away from it. Following that month, I became more aware of my precious time slipping away, due to how Facebook has a clever way of drawing us in. This is when I knew I had to intentionally take more frequent breaks. To unplug for longer periods of time.
Then last month, I purposely took about six days off with the intention to enjoy the holiday season. What did I learn in less than a week from being away? I learned that I got so much accomplished simply from taking a break. Oh my goodness, it was amazing to realize that despite ADHD, I can tackle several projects and complete them when I'm not sidetracked! (And I no longer take Adderall so this is unmedicated!)
Truthfully, it's only day two from my Facebook break this new year and my attitude has most definitely improved already. Finally, I can breath. I have peace of mind. I can think straight. I sense God guiding and directing me. I'm having amazing dreams at night. And my motivation to write my fourth book is like a race horse waiting for the gate to open. I'm chomping at the bit! Oh, and if you haven't noticed, I am really excited about life now.
So here's my plan. This is going to be an experiment to blog about my January 2017 break from Facebook. As much as I'd like to give a timeline, part of me wants to just go with it. Just wing it and see how long I can go without Facebook. To test the waters. Spend more time in my "real" life to enjoy my friends and family. To work on the content in my book, Sacred Wanderings: Growing Your Faith in the Dark. To be present in the moment. To spend more time chatting with my heavenly Father. To blast my favorite worship music as I sing on the top of my lungs. To admire the beauty of our universe. To just live one day at a time and treasure this sweet little escape into bliss.