This summer I required my students to give up a piece of technology for a few days, then write about what they experienced. The paper turned in by this particular student was terrific and I wanted to share it (I have her permission). If this sounds inspiring, I would challenge you to take a technology fast–you don’t even have to be in a class.
When 6:30am rolls around every morning and I find myself reaching over to shut my alarm off, I think to myself, “where are the days of sleeping in?!” Going through the same routine of hygiene, collecting my things, and eating breakfast, I always manage to slip in a quick check up on Facebook- as if the world changed in the last 6 hours I looked. Some days though, I even attempt a quick Psalm or picking up where I left off the hurried night before in Ephesians, only to drift off in my head to the latest post by my friend. No matter the hour of the day, my devotional time has been slighted through various thoughts drifting in my head from what I saw online, as well as prolonged visits on Facebook.
This fast provided an opportunity for me to do what I needed to do for a while. I gave up Facebook for five wonderful days. Why? Because it replaced things in my life that should be number one. Though Facebook wasn’t something that consumed my mind as in needing to constantly check it and post my life for the public to see and know- it transformed my thinking. This piece of technology on the internet gives people the option of exploring other individual’s lives. The latest vacation, the recent break up or relationship, even the newest styles- all broadcasted and shared on Facebook through pictures, status’s, and wall posts. So often I found myself getting lost in the wall to walls between friends wondering, “Why isn’t she writing that on MY wall?” Or even, “I wish I had the means to experience that vacation.” I compared my life to others, though I didn’t realize it all the time.
Facebook even became so much a part of my thoughts that I saw how relationships were displayed- in happy, goofy pictures in different places with different people. You see who hangs out with whom, and I constantly looked at my own life, especially my own relationship and thought that there was something wrong with mine. We weren’t always laughing and goofy. In fact, we have confronted issues this summer that either will make or break us. We didn’t have the same friends, or even find ourselves in those weekend night pictures of people hanging out and having the time of their life. The fact that I used Facebook as a means to define and alter my view of my relationship showed that something needed to change.
My time alone with God is never just God and I. By having Facebook as a routine place to check in, I never fully checked out after the log in page appeared. I even thought that the site could fix things through mediating communication with it. But instead it held my thoughts captive in such a way that I lived Facebook rather than real life at times. Is this what I have become? Is this what it’s always going to be like for me? One who sees online as a catalyst and contributor to enrich my personal physical life?
This fast was difficult at first. I thought about the recent posts written on my wall that I wouldn’t be able to write back to. I always thought about the pictures that were being put up from the concert last weekend and how I wouldn’t be able to see who was there and whether or not they had a good time. After day one rolled around I realized something though- not having to check up on everyone else’s life left me with time to spend in my own, fully. I had a weekend with my family where access to internet was easy but instead of logging in to Facebook, I had conversations with my cousins and my uncle that otherwise I would’ve spent online having with friends and acquaintances.
Facebook, through this fast, was revealed for what it was. It was a place of hyperpersonal communication- a place where people can upload and Photoshop their photos in such a way that it looks most appealing to everyone else. It is a copout for a hangout. It is an easy way to tell someone you miss him or her. This piece of technology took control of a part of my life that I want and will take back. It should be the last thing I do in my day. The thing I check in to when everything else is done. I have wasted valuable sleeping minutes, priceless times in the Word, as well as meaningful conversations with friends and family, by allowing myself to be wrapped up in life online.
Through this fast, all of these things became clear to me. And I was stunned to find that though I thought I was better than a lot of the Facebook “creepers,” I was still spending valuable time on there- time that managed to transform thoughts and form opinions. My relationship during this fast was better. Not even kidding. I didn’t get weighed down on the little things going on that I saw on Facebook and rather enjoyed what we have, which is wonderful. My friendships have become more meaningful through phone calls and Skype. All of these improvements have left me to ponder though- is this what our world is coming to- Facebook as the sole means to really display who you are as a person? If so, how can I combat that and make my life exceptionally rich without displaying it for all to see?
Because of this fast I am willingly limiting myself to time and frequency on Facebook. I am allowing God to rule my thoughts and my heart in such a way that I will find rest in knowing that my relationships are in Him, not in an online site. Thank you for this opportunity.