Still wide awake at 12:30 a.m. today, I rolled out of bed and did what I’ve done on many other sleepless nights. I grabbed my phone to check in with Facebook — for the first time in 7 days.
A week ago, inspired by a book I’m reading and challenged by my blogging friend Plaidfuzz, I decided to give myself a one week break from Facebook. Besides wanting to change a habit, a big motivation for my self-imposed fast was the climate on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. There is much that’s good in this online community — inspiring messages, fun recipes, photos of friends and their families, groups of like-minded individuals conversing on topics of interest (writing and hygge). And, Facebook is sometimes a window into the world of my sons, though it’s not often their chosen means of communicating online.
But what I found when dropping in during the middle of the night is that not much has changed in seven days. Attacks and “false news” are still popping up in my news feed, which means I have to do a lot of scrolling to get to stuff I want to read, and, the things I don’t want to pour into my mind still seep in.
I have enjoyed at least 168 hours without the vitriol, and I feel cleansed.
Stepping away from Facebook — even for just a week — gave me some perspective and taught me a thing or two. Or 5. Here are 5 things I learned during my 7-day break from Facebook:
- My friends are still my friends whether I “like” something they say or not. Not one of them unfriended me because of my neglect. Nor did they send me nasty messages.
- Picking up my Bible first thing in the morning instead of my phone or I-pad is better for my spiritual, emotional and mental health. I started most days happier, calmer and with a clearer mind. I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah first thing in the morning, with Eugene Peterson’s great book “Run with the Horses” as my guide. The destruction of Jerusalem and the angry greed of Babylon aren’t so far removed from our world today. (Adding praises from Psalms tempers the message.)
- There’s a lot more to read, watch and listen to on the Internet besides what’s in my Facebook feed. Notable sites where I spent time this week included The Redbud Post, The Academy of Ideas, and Jeff Goins’ podcast The Portfolio Life .
- My political views didn’t waver in the absence of daily reminders of how divided our country has become. I’m still conservative, right of center, pro-life and praying for our nation.
- I can accomplish a lot in the 10 minutes I might spend several times a day scrolling thru, liking (or loving, crying, laughing) and commenting on Facebook posts. Some of my 10-minute fillers were folding a load of laundry, reading a chapter in a book, stirring up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, doing my yoga stretches, having a real conversation with a friend.
- I said 5? Here’s a bonus. Twitter is a poor substitute, and it is just as mind-numbing and time-wasting as Facebook. Instagram? Not ready to give that up yet.
Will I return to Facebook permanently? Possibly. I’ve made some great connections and found new friends there. But if I do, I think I’ll rely on it less often to fill spare moments and to connect with people.
My final three words on Facebook? Words I try to apply to everyday life: Discretion, Self-control, Balance.