It’s embarrassing to admit, but I used to be addicted to social media. My drug of choice? Facebook.
I realized a long time ago it was a problem, but I couldn’t control my time on there unless I deactivated my account. It was always short lived, though. I gave it up for Lent one year and felt wonderful, but quickly fell back into my old habits.
When my husband died in 2010 Facebook became my pseudo-therapist. I poured out my emotions for everyone to see. I needed to purge the pain raging inside of me. Sometimes I’d post 7 times in one day. I was essentially publishing my diary and all the dirt that my grief journey was collecting.
The attention fueled me to continue, and I cared very little that it wasn’t all positive. Some people walked away because they couldn’t stand to see the mess I had made of my life, others couldn’t help but watch the train wreck that unfolded before their eyes. They could pop their bag of popcorn, and watch the chaos that consumed my existence from the comfort of their homes. Still, there were many who offered me unconditional love and support, and stood by my side through it all. Those are the people I am most thankful for, though I cannot fault any who walked away.
Facebook evolved into my place to vent about the ridiculousness of the world at large and especially our own politics.
I decided that my New Year’s Resolution for 2016 would be a year without social media (i.e. mainly Facebook). I wondered when I took on the challenge if I’d make it, and if so what my life would look like a year later.
I’m delighted to say that it was the wisest and healthiest decision I could have possibly made for myself and my children.
2016 was one of the best years of my life. I was present in my life and with my children. They didn’t complain that I was “always on my phone” because I wasn’t. I focused on what’s truly important – my children, my life, that which is in front of me in reality, not everyone else’s lives, not what’s going on 3,000 miles away, and definitely not the political spectacle that seemed to define the year for so many.
My head wasn’t in the sandbox, though I tried to keep it there as much as possible. I knee what was going on, but not being connected and consumed by the social media frenzy gave me the objective perspective I would have never gotten otherwise.
From what I can tell, 2016 was marked with anger, hatred, and division that seems reminiscent days long past in our nation politically, racially, and genderally (yes, I know it’s not a real word).
I would have been swept up by the fury had I not unplugged for the year, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed my life nearly as much. More importantly, my children wouldn’t have enjoyed me as much, and they are what’s most important.
Yes, what’s going on in the world and our nation are very important, but nothing is as important as our children, families, and communities.
Here’s the thing: We will never all agree on anything, so to get along best we need to be willing to agree to disagree. Sure there are moral issues that need to be addressed, but we get so worked up over things that are not truly significant in the long here.
Here’s something else: There are so many worthy causes that need to be fought for. We can’t all fight for all of them, so it’s a good thing our passions are different. While I care deeply about animals (to the point I may have yelled at someone recently who was trying to hit a dog, and I have rescued 6 animals in the last 4 years), my passion is more for Human Trafficking. I have a cousin whose passion is animals and not people.
My point is, the world can balance itself if we invest in our passions. If we spend our time taking care of our families and our communities, and bringing awareness to the plight of those both near and far in a non-hateful way we could get so much more done. If we stopped using social media to attack others and spread hate. If we used social media to solve problems instead of just complain about them.
I’m not judging because I’m guilty of many of these things myself. But the truth is if we don’t stop worrying about everyone else’s lives and start taking care of our own then the world will continue to self-destruct.
Be the light the people around you need to see.
As for me, I’m staying off of Facebook. I know my limits and the past few days have shown me I’d rather not be sucked back into the vortex of chaos.
Peace, love, faith, and contentment to you all.