I have been sharing about leaving Facebook. Boy, so many people got off Social Media platforms over Lent and they are choosing to stay off them! I am so happy. I realized I was not alone in my disgust and distaste over what is all over the media. And interestingly enough, in my age group, I discovered most of us got onto Social Media platforms in the first place, just to stay in touch with our kids and friends who had moved away.
I chatted with one of my sons and he was supportive of me leaving FB. My only concern was being in the loop with his life and kids and because we literally live 1,000s of miles away, and I wanted to ensure I was able to still be a part of their lives. Because for me, family is what matters to me above all else these days. Of course my faith is still #1 in my life, but my faith encompasses the love of my family. And let’s face it, we are getting so lazy. It is easier to post a photo and leave it for others to find and see, rather than personally sending one, or even getting a photo actually printed!! Sometimes we are not in the mood to chat, so we put off calling. I get that, I do.
With the death of my mother-in-law, the above meme became so personal. I will never again get to chat with her, learn from her, or laugh with her. I was recalling yesterday a poignant visit when our eldest son was born. My MIL and I were sitting on the couch, and she was holding our newborn son. My husband arrived home from work and it became almost like slow-motion video, or even a cartoon. He proceeded to drop what he had with him, as he walked through the house, piece-by-piece. And I recall she and I moving our heads in unison as he walked past us. Then she turned to me and said, “I’m sorry; I guess I didn’t train him very well.” And we both laughed and laughed. And the funniest part was I was sharing this with the wife of that newborn baby who is now in his 30s. And we decided it is a genetic trait! LOL! But these memories we hold so dear are made by spending time with one another. They are an investment in our future. They are part of who we become.
The Lord created us in His image. We are a Holy People. The Lord gave us this amazing organ – our brain. And with this brain of ours we have created some amazing things. Technology has helped our world so very much. And without some of our technology, the world would not function as it does. Production and processes would come to a complete stop. One of the things researchers have noted, however, is that technology can be addictive. Just as much an addiction as any other. Some people cannot put their phones down. They are constantly checking their status or looking to see posts on various platforms. One of the favors I did for myself is I turned off almost all notifications. No random dings or rings from my phone. I also took Facebook off my phone. I try to use it as a device to call people, not search the World Wide Web. I am far from my goals, but I am taking steps. And it is one of the reasons I am leaving Facebook. To enable myself to be personal again, and not so digital.
To be perfectly honest, being offline is scary. I am alone for much the of my days (since I am not working outside the home right now) and reaching for my phone or my computer to see what is up around the world is so easy, it becomes second nature. We got rid of cable and standard TV, but bingeing on shows is so easy – I find myself just putting it on for the company, while I go about my day. (I started the Supernatural series all over again and am already at Season 10…lol). Media has become a part of our lives. We are not comfortable being alone, or being in silence. And that is my goal – to be comfortable there. Quietly alone.
In an article on a website called “Inspirecycle,” called “Digital Detox – Disconnect to Reconnect,” they cited many reasons why our habitual use of digital media is bad, and what we can do to disconnect ourselves and be more present to each other. In the article, they cite that many people suffer from FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. And I realized that is me. I want to be a part of what is happening. The reality? I’m a 62-year-old grandma, who is alone most of the time, in Wasilla, Alaska. LOL. Being so remote, I am not really “in” or “a part” of much – it is the Last Frontier, and a much quieter lifestyle in and of itself. So it enhances that loneliness hole I have. But filling it with media is not the way to go! And staying connected for your whole day is also not healthy. Studies have shown, according to this article, that Smartphones have enabled people to become workaholics 24/7 because you can always be contacted on your phone. And it is hard for people to use that “Do not disturb” feature on their phones! I have heard of families that require all phones be placed in a bowl by the door, or on a family-sized charging station when they come home, so they can be present to one another. It is not a bad idea.
One of the suggestions of the article is to begin and end each day practicing meditation or prayer, instead of reaching for the phone/computer first. I have tried to do this. I have a stack of prayer books on the end table by the recliner in my living room. I endeavor to reach for one of those and meditate on the word of God and the Church Fathers before engaging in the world. And it truly does give my soul rest and peace. It also gets my brain in a really good mindset of “God first!” And then when I look on media platforms, the absence of the divine is so apparent, I find it easier to put it down.
It should concern us all, about where our hearts and minds are directed throughout our day. Because each step we take is a step towards God, or a step away. How we fill our minds, the thoughts we have, eventually become our character. The habits we develop say a lot about who we are, and what we are concerned with. And I scared myself. I was becoming so much of this digital world, that all I could converse about what who said what on Twitter, or who posted what on Facebook, or the newest photo on Instagram. My youngest son was telling me all these other social platforms the younger generation are using, to get away from us old people who use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I cannot even remember the names of all the new platforms, and there are a lot of them. This is a partial list: QQ, We chat, Qzone, Vibes, Tagged, Baddo, Stumble Upon, Snapfish, Vine, Tout, Spreely, WhatsApp, and Funny or Die. Those are just a few! Seriously! It is almost bordering on the ridiculous.
This is my social media! Ha-Ha. This is the cover of the Psalter I try to read daily. The prayers for before and after are amazing. It centers me. It calms me. Now, does everyone find solace in a Psalter? Of course not. But it is an example of the many, many, sources of faith and knowledge we can replace social media with. The list is far longer than the platforms I listed above! LOL! We can occupy our minds with prayers, with holy words from the Gospels, or the Church Fathers. We can listen to some amazing Podcasts. We can play Christian music. I recently discovered that I can play the music on my Phone (I have a guilty habit – I love Apple Music – and I have a lot of it. Yes, it is $9/month, but I download far more than $9 worth of music! And now they know what I like, they offer suggestions for more downloads. I recently downloaded all of Chicago’s music – one of my favorite bands of the 70s. Life is good!) by genre! So I choose Christian most of the time, and all my albums that are Christian play, in a randomly selected order so I don’t get bored. I stream it into my car and off we go down the road.
The point I am making is that for me, and for my faith and sanity, I am streamlining what goes into my brain, through what I see and listen to, because it affects my character. The old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out,” applies!
And with determination, trust in the Holy Spirit, and the Guidance of God, I will move into a much quieter place. And it will be a place where I am present to those around me in a real, tangible way. Less world, less media, more love for one another – up close and personal. Friends and family – it is all we really have in this life. Don’t replace them with media. And if we put God first in all things, the rest will beautifully fall into place.