Five Reasons I'm Giving Up Facebook for Lent

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facebookIf you feel called to give up a Facebook for Lent this year, you aren’t alone. In social media parlance, the idea is “trending.”

Before I explain my reasons for seriously curbing my Facebook use this season, let me first acknowledge that social media enables me to do my work as a writer with great ease. It is so critical to my work that I won’t be able to completely fast from social media this year.

Also, let me assure you that I know the Holy Spirit works online wonders daily, so no, you are not deficient if you don’t feel moved to sacrifice social media this season. It might not be for you. And if you are engaged in online dating, l should tell you that I met my husband online during Lent.

At the same time, social media divides us. The divisive nature of the electronic beast has weighed me down lately. Here are five reasons that I am fasting from Facebook for Lent.

Hurtful Behavior: How many times have I seen Catholic brethren behave badly on Facebook? It could be a rude comment or a mysterious “de-friending” without explanation that will most certainly be awkward the next time I see the individual in person. It could simply be a hurtful code of non-engagement, meaning that despite my overtures to be friendly with someone, they resolutely ignore me, even if we plainly share many of the same interests and causes. My slice of Facebook isn’t always welcoming and it has made me bitter and aloof.

Shallow Connections: Originally, Facebook enhanced my connections with friends and family. That time has passed. Now, my closest friends and family stay in touch via email, texts, phone calls, and in-person events. The people I interact with most on Facebook very rarely, if ever, reach out to have a real conversation, and I usually don’t either because my sense is that they aren’t interested in forming a deeper connection. This means that my steady stream of “likes” and comments don’t mean much. Sadly, I could die tomorrow and these people may or may not know about it or mourn my loss.

Exceeded Quotas: You can only take so much depressing news per day without it adversely affecting your mood. Though I am rabidly anti-abortion, I have realized that I can’t read article after article, post after post, about pro-life news. I dispense so much sympathy to post-abortive women who regret their actions. I read so many stories about babies born frightfully early. I gasp in shock when I read about a person who survived an abortion attempt. I am outraged when I read about a woman dying after a late-term abortion. But some days, it’s too much. I never had an abortion and don’t plan to. I have a healthy baby who needs my attention. Though I like to stay informed, I don’t really need to be immersed in abortion news 24/7.

Groupthink: As I mentioned at a Year of Faith symposium, we Catholics have fostered an electronic environment that demands absolute conformity. We all parrot the same ideas, the same news, the same opinions…and frankly, I don’t think it’s a particularly creative environment. I naturally strive to do new things and think outside the box, and don’t always see the Holy Spirit within the standard fare. Sometimes, I just think, “Here we go again…” If I have a fresh idea or perspective that I’d like to share, chances are that it will be wasted in social media. People will discount it and scroll on.

Neglected Projects: Lastly, I have a few important writing projects that need my attention. I tell myself that I surf Facebook when it’s an inopportune time to work on my projects, but wonder if that’s really the case. Could I use my daily allotment of Facebook time to polish a manuscript for publication? I don’t know, but if I can, I suspect the finished project will be more valuable than my status updates.

So, come March 5th, my Facebook app is coming off my iPad and iPhone, and I will probably have to turn off notifications given the game invites I get (and never accept).

I hope I get back to basics this Lent. I hope I get to church more, read more devotional books, pray more, all of that good stuff. But most of all, I am interested in the insights I will have after this massive overhaul of my daily routine!

Will you be fasting from any social media this Lent?

Copyright 2014 Amy Bonaccorso 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Groupthink. THANK YOU!! I feel the same way. I ended up filtering out most of my friends in favor of just family and close friends that I actually see. I got really tired of the constant pontificating. People need to realize that you can’t be preached at all the time. Real conversation works so much better. I think outside the box too and tend to be careful what I post on Facebook.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! I know what you mean about the constant “pontificating” and the need for real conversation. You can have Facebook interactions all day but still be left starving for a real conversation.

    • This is SO true! I have plans to limit social media/computer time as well. I joined FB VERY late in the game, and I almost regret I ever joined. It feels very empty to me, and yet now I fear missing out if I leave completely. It’s a very unsettling feeling … I totally agree that we can do A LOT Of good with our Catholic voice in social media, but I am not 100% it needs to be MY Catholic voice. Maybe I am called elsewhere! Thank you for your insights! God bless your Lent!

  3. I’ve thought about it but am still undecided. I think I am may go with limiting it since I do maintain pages for a group and for work. Maybe only go on “my page” twice a day instead of whenever I feel like it.

    • Yes, I am getting the sense that most of us are so reliant on social media now that an intention to fast may not equal a complete, unbroken social media fast. It has to be realistic and work with your responsibilities. It can still be meaningful though 🙂

  4. This is the third year that I’ve given up Facebook for Lent. For me, giving up Facebook reminds me of who is really in control of my life. I tend to get fixated on Facebook in two areas: feeling like I need to take care of my social circle by reading, liking, and making positive, supportive comments and by providing funny and entertaining Facebook updates. Both of these are positive in small doses. But I need a reminder that I can’t control what people think of me by putting a carefully constructed face out there. Nor can I be the perfect friend. Whether I am on Facebook or not, life will go on without me. I am mortal and I am small without Him.

    • Wow, those are some powerful insights! Thank you. Yes, it is a common phenomenon to carefully craft social media updates with some intent on being liked (a crowd pleaser). But it can distort our view of things and forget where our real worth comes from. So valuable to remember!

  5. My husband gave up social media entirely for Lent. Rather than give up social media entirely myself this year, I did install an app on my phone that blocks Facebook after I’ve been on it for a total of an hour a day. (My husband set the password, so not cheating!) That way, I can stay with my better habits after Easter Sunday! Thank you for sharing- I will be forwarding this on my my husband as well!

  6. Pingback: Social Media Fasts: Making Room for Blessings | CatholicMom.com

  7. So happy to see that a lo of people are giving up Facebook for lent.i giving up for Holy week . Wants to give more time to get closer to Jesus . Blessings

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