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A week without Facebook, and why I’m back

Last week, for the second time in a month, I decided to deactivate my Facebook account. I’ve taken brief sabbaticals from social media before, but closing my account, even briefly, made it feel more drastic, and I wanted and needed drastic.

My most most recent break lasted about one week. Mainly I wanted to get away from the habit of Facebook, but I have to admit that it went deeper than that. I was doing some soul searching, and I really started to ask myself, “Who cares if you made a delicious farro salad last night? Who cares what your kids did this weekend? Who cares about your crazy work deadlines?” I started to believe that perhaps Facebook is nothing more than a modern-day version of navel-gazing at best, narcissism gone mad at worst. And so I deactivated, hoping to discover that Facebook was totally unnecessary, even for those of us who kind of need it for promoting books, posting blogs, and spreading the Good News.

The first day went by without much fanfare. Although I’d occasionally walk over to my computer, thinking I’d pop in to see what everyone was up to, I didn’t really miss it. In fact, it was a welcome break. But issues began to mount pretty quickly after that. I couldn’t even update or access my own author page because you need a personal page to get to it. Dennis had to post my blog entries for me. Oh the tangled webs we weave. Within a couple of days, it became apparent that this sabbatical was going to be more difficult than previously expected and possibly detrimental to my real-life friendships.

One friend’s mother died. Another friend’s sister was suddenly faced with life-threatening illness. Another friend asked for prayers for a little girl on our prayer list because she was in a fight for her life. I knew about these prayer needs only because Dennis was getting them through his own page and was forwarding the really important stuff to me via email. Suddenly I started to realize that Facebook has become a significant part of my spiritual life. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I don’t even know how many other prayer requests (not to mention delicious recipes, inspiring quotes, and funny clips) I might have missed while I was away.

I also began to miss my distant friends, people I love but only get to “visit” and see through Facebook. Without my news feed, I had no idea what they were doing or if they needed anything or if they had any wonderful news to share. I couldn’t even email some friends and neighbors because my only access to them is through social media. Maybe that says more about my contact organization system than it does about Facebook, but, either way,  I need this outlet to connect, especially since I’m already so isolated in my home office.

And so I reactivated, tentatively at first, posting only birthday wishes for my baby because who could argue with that. I still haven’t decided what I want Facebook to be in my life or how much time it deserves, but there’s no denying that it has its place, and an important one at that. So if I missed your birthday or some other important life event, please know I wasn’t ignoring you; I was just deactivated, and I missed you all.

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  1. Mary your observations are spot on! I nearly gave up FB for lent but realized I needed and wanted the personal connection and to be able to reach quickly to friends or friends of friends that may have needed our prayers. So anyway, we do care about the farro salad!!! Celeste

    July 23, 2012
  2. I also have a hard time with the facebook thing, however, I find it a necessary evil. I love my prayer wall and following my cousins from around the world. I enjoy seeing the pictures of their families. So, for now, I too will keep ‘creeping’ on friends walls.

    July 23, 2012
  3. Mary, thanks for your candor here. I have never done what you did, but I must say, I loved being on retreat for seven days without social media. Bliss.

    I was a bit worried when I found that you were gone, but I think I understand. Everything you say here reminds me of the great “both/and-ness” of our faith… Facebook can be completely narcissistic and ridiculous, yet it is also a great source of rich connection and information. I consider Facebook the genesis of our friendship Mary, a friendship that I deeply treasure!

    I’m glad you are back, but you know you can’t get rid of me too easily dearest Mary!

    July 23, 2012

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