I gave up Facebook for Lent.
I know, right? How will I get the most important news stories? Do I really have to scroll through the CNN app on my own each day? What about the cute pictures of kids and the funny updates that give me a laugh? And oh, the Buzzfeed quizzes. How will I ever crack the code now????
It’s only been one week and I feel like a different person.
Here’s the thing: To some degree, I need Facebook. I’m a freelance writer and the expectation is that I will share my articles on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else that people might listen. Facebook is how I keep people updated on the progress of my book, and find a little cheerleading when I feel like I can’t possibly write one more word.
And on a personal level, Facebook keeps me connected to my friends in other cities. I like seeing the cute little faces of kids in my feed that I wouldn’t ordinarily see and I enjoy the funny status updates from my friends. It’s an easy way to keep in touch, and who doesn’t love easy?
I love my Facebook friends, I really do…
But I don’t love the white noise. I don’t love the days when it seems like people argue simply for the sake of arguing. I’m pretty tough and I can take a fair amount of criticism, but I don’t like it when people leave negatively charged comments on my Facebook updates containing parenting articles. That’s what the comment forms are for on each website where you might find my work. There is absolutely a place for that and I would love to hear what other people have to say, just not on my personal Facebook page. In fact, I actually love when the comments appear on my Practical Parenting Facebook Page – when comments appear there (positive or negative), parents engage in meaningful conversations. They share their own stories, concerns, and victories. They help each other out. That’s why I didn’t give up my professional page for Lent. I want to to hear those thoughts and engage in those conversations. We are all different, and meaningful conversations are good. But arguments on my personal Facebook page? No way.
But alas, sometimes the lines are blurred when it comes to personal and professional on Facebook, and sometimes you just need a break. I’ve never been particularly good at white noise…perhaps it’s the introvert in me. Perhaps not. Either way, I took a break.
I’ve always prioritized being present with my kids. I fought long and hard to have them, and I don’t let anything get in the way. I let text messages go unanswered, I ignore email for days, and I am known to silence the phone when both kids are with me. The only person who gets through is my husband.
The flip side of that, of course, is that my poor husband has to bear the brunt of me playing catch-up when the kids are asleep. I quickly scan for priority email and other things that I should respond to in a timely manner before I cook dinner and focus on him for the night. It’s ok. He gets it. We both work. We both have things that need doing. But still, the white noise crackles in the background – and the white noise doesn’t need doing.
I thought I would miss it more when I bid Facebook farewell for 40 days. I thought I would feel disconnected and miss the small moments with my friends in other cities. I thought I would worry about my work and disappoint my editors with my lack of social media activity. But the truth is…I feel relieved.
(And I think my editors understand…)
I’m still working during my office hours and sharing my articles as necessary, but then I’m shoving my iPhone to back corner of my desk and moving on. A sense of calm washes over me each time I water the plants the four of us planted last weekend without a hint of distraction. A sense of strength courses through me when I run with my phone on DND. And a feeling of connection keeps me focused when I engage in more meaningful connections with the people I encounter face-to-face each day.
(Incidentally, you NEED to read this article in Time. Seriously. I love this research from Boston Children’s Hospital…partially because I find myself conducting similar “research” often.)
The truth is that my friends know where to find me and when to text me if they want me to respond. They know the best times to call to chat and the best times to leave a quick message. They know that I am there for them 100% day or night when they need me. And they understand the importance of stepping back and enjoying the present instead of looking to the virtual for feedback and connection.
I will return to Facebook when spring is upon us. I will continue to share my work and smile at adorable pictures. I will make jokes that only some people understand (thank god for my brother…and Sondra) and post pictures of my own little cuties. I enjoy the connection in bits and pieces, and I enjoy the old friends that have popped back into my life simply because someone had a really good idea…
But for right now, I’m taking time for me, my husband, and my littles. Because even though I do my very best to keep my phone out of sight when I’m with my people…the only way to truly silence the white noise is to shut it down and walk away.
Until next time, my friends…