Giving up facebook

So. The short of the matter is, I’ve given up facebook for Lent.
The problem is, I announced that I was doing it on my facebook status.

I’m not claiming to be “religious” — I didn’t do it to get pats on the back from anyone (myself included) or for the attention (the wow-factor), and I can’t even claim that I’m “faithfully” using that time for introspection or prayer (although it wouldn’t hurt).

It’s actually simpler than that. I find myself turning to social media — e-mail, blogs, and facebook — when I feel the desire to interact with someone, to have a relationship, to communicate. And that’s all well and good.  But sometimes I think it might be my go-to reaction, the thing I do instead of calling a friend or meeting face-to-face… or stopping to pray. As a Christian, I believe that God calls us into relationship with Him. Now what kind of relationship is it if I don’t spend time and effort on nurturing that relationship? (Answer: not a very good one.)

But by announcing my departure from fb for the season of Lent, I stepped into a questionable zone and I need to stop and look at my motives.

The message (sermon, homily… whatever you want to call it) at the Ash Wednesday service was based on Jesus’ instructions about righteousness:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 6:1, New International Version]

The pastor talked about how many folks (and yes, on facebook!) were discussing what they were giving up for Lent, and how this *could* be seen as announcing ones righteousness aloud in the temple and on the street corner – a sort of look at me! Look what I am doing! I was horrified to think that my announced absence from fb might have a root in that. Whether or not it does (and I didn’t want it to be!), it can certainly read that way to people. Now, the pastor knows me pretty well and I think she knows that was not my intent when I posted my status.

I actually gave up facebook for Lent last year, too, but I did not announce my departure. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I was quiet about it because I didn’t think I could stay away for that long. I didn’t want to say I was doing it and then fail right in front of everyone. (Pride rears its ugly head.) But I felt badly about missing friends’ birthdays during those 7 weeks. I didn’t want them to feel ignored. (Honestly? For the most part, I doubt they noticed).

For me, fb is a huge time suck. On a regular visit, I might go on for “just 5 minutes” but that can turn into 90 minutes pretty easily.  There’s always plenty of things that need to get done in a day and whatever time I have gets filled SOMEHOW, with SOMETHING.  I am trying to reclaim my time as a gift from God and to use it more wisely. Now if only I had worded it that way on my facebook status!
Because it’s less of a “giving up for Lent” thing and more of an intentional focus on what God wants me to discover about my relationship with Him.

And that was the message at church on Wednesday night:  to examine your heart, your life, and ask if there is something in the way of having a relationship with God.

15 responses to “Giving up facebook

  1. The whole concept of Lent is pretty foreign to me. I get it but it’s not something that I, or any of my SOs have learned or followed. But it sound to me as if your reasons are solid. Now I wonder how many folks have given up blogging for Lent.. and will I notice? 😉

  2. We don´t celebrate Lent, but I think the motive behind your absence from fb is very well understood. You are doing it for the right reason and God will see that.
    Thanks for sharing your thought s and insights to your Sunday sermon. Spoke to me as well.

  3. my sister did that last year, she was fine until someone gifted her a cow for farmville, thats when she called me to log in as her and accept the gift…is that cheating?

  4. Now if we could just friend God on Facebook, wouldn’t that resolve the conflict? But I guess that sounds a tad profane. I didn’t really mean it that way.

  5. I don’t do Lent, so the whole thing fascinates me. If you find yourself with too much time on your hands, you can add Words with Friends to your phone and play with me–SC got me hooked!

  6. Good for you. We’ll miss you though.

  7. I gave up facebook last november as you know – because I loved the connections but just got too addicted – and that ego thing bothered me too…

    I did miss it – but not anymore..


  8. You’ve been in my thoughts! I hope your family is all right!!

  9. I’m a lapsed Catholic and Lent used to be a biggie at my house when growing up. I remember long discussions with my siblings about what to give up. It had to be something that pinched a bit — but not TOO much. Couldn’t just give up candy. God wouldn’t want 40 days of deep depression. So, we’d give up certain candies, like no ju-jubes or potato chips. Worked for us.

  10. i think you did the right thing! by announcing to fb that you were taking off for lent, that let everyone know not to get miffed / hurt / whatever by your absence. i definitely wouldn’t take it as bragging!

  11. Yes, I wasn’t going to “give up” anything for Lent. Rather I was going to “invest” in something, and I haven’t. Fortunately, God’s clock isn’t the same as ours and it isn’t too late for me to start.

  12. I actually gave up facebook for Lent last year, too, but I did not announce my departure <—actually, I think it's nice you announced it, so that folks wouldn't think you disappeared off the face of the earth!

  13. Lots of people I know have announced they are leaving FB for Lent… I interpret their messages as just letting people know why they have gone silent for a while… and not as attention-grabbing.

  14. I think it’s good you gave fb up for Lent. I think the pastor’s comment about announcing your righteousness on the street corner is a little peculiar. What is facebook if not a conversation? Shouldn’t one person’s words about a religious choice be the start of a conversation and contemplation for another?

    But what do I know, I am not religious, although I remember giving up things like “candy” for Lent as a kid. I think choosing something like fb to give up is much more constructive and probably a deeper sacrifice at the same time.

    So I wish you the best with it. And if it changes your habits about fb, that’s great too.

    I visit my fb page only occasionally, to see what’s going on with distant friends and to see what my kid is doing.

  15. good for you 🙂
    when you do take up fb again…friend me
    terri hartung horner