I took a hiatus from Facebook not too long ago. It wasn't because of boredom, or because I grew out of it... I wish I could mature beyond a need for human interaction, but I have yet to reach that pinnacle. I took the break because my feelings got hurt. And then they got hurt again. And again.... And after a sincere and tear filled conversation with my husband, I decided close my account and log off. At the time, I didn't care if I ever set my digital foot-print on that site again, I was that hurt. There were lots of reasons I left but at the crux it was my own emotional immaturity and my inability to accept that not everyone has to like me.
I share this rather embarrassing part of my history because I hear from women more mature than myself that this new age of living online has them soothing hurt feelings too. How can you not, on some level, have a stinging sense of exclusion when you are able to see inside the workings of someone else's life and you are very obviously left out? When everyone of your "other" friends is thanked and you are left out, when you read of a party you were not invited to, yet someone you think barely knows them is included? How on earth are we expected to react when we feel slighted, hurt and excluded?
For myself, this came to a head when I realized that I was neither reacting nor relating to the situation as a Christian. I realized I was looking to outside sources for validation, away from my heavenly Father, and right into the grasp of the enemy. I was turning to the world for validation, not separating myself from it as God so clearly instructs. I also realized that I needed to really, honestly - brutally - look deep within myself and determine if I was mature enough to handle the responsibility of being part of something like Facebook. Was it the venue, or was it me? Was I the one with the problem?
Regretfully, but thankfully for my sanity, I came to the conclusion that until I was able to resolve some other major issues with my heart (think bitterness, grudge-holding and self-riteousness), I needed to excuse myself from all social networking. It was a blessing... I began blogging instead, met some amazing folks, and resurrected a life-passion that had laid dormant for years. I know that God worked it together for His ultimate good, but man - did it hurt in the meantime! It meant that I had to look at parts of me that I distinctly despise and it meant being disciplined enough to really know myself and do the right thing for me. To not fold under the pressure, no matter how well meaning, of my friends who didn't want me to leave FB was very difficult. I wanted to stay, but I also knew until I dealt with my issues, it was a no-brainer... I needed to log out.
When I got down to it, who was I trying to please? Was it God that I had my sights set on, or was it something else altogether? Was I in His will with my obsessive compulsive behavior? Ahem...Definitely not. So in this age where we talk ourselves into this mantra of, "I deserve to be a part of this or that," I had to look myself squarely in the eye and say I was not mature enough to be on Facebook. I was looking for validation beyond God's desire for me and I was acting childishly to boot.
I wanted my "friends" to shun my offender and they did not. I wanted God to punish my offender, and He didn't appear to even blink... In fact, to make matters worse, it looked like my offender was being rewarded! In the year and a half that I removed myself I realized I had a choice. I could use the venue as a tool or I could seek out other means of entertainment and self promotion.
Ultimately I learned some valuable truths about myself and how I to interact on a social network to keep my heart safe and God happy.
1. I view only what comes into my News reel. I don't visit other people's pages unless they tell me they have something specifically for me to see. That keeps me reading only things they want me to see. I have relied on a something my Aunt has said over and over, "What other people think about me is none of my business." I always thought that was crap until it was explained in light of my own private thoughts. Would I want someone else to know that? uh... Absolutely not!
2. It is good to take a break from the constant bombardments. I have committed to my family to have one tech-free day a week. No phone, iPad or computer for a whole day. If we leave the ranch only one adult is to have a phone and only to be reachable in case of emergency. It keeps us sharper, more aware of the others around us and less likely to take each other for granted. And do you know what? We are all pretty funny individuals! My kids have amazing senses of humor and my husband is a rockstar! (Just sayin'...)
3. I think more about what I am saying when I post now. I try to realize that there are folks out there who struggle with exclusion and who have the same issues that caused me to log off. I try to be uplifting and not Debbie Downer. No one wants to read continuous posts about how crappy my day went. And when I just have to post about a disappointment, I try to find some sort of humor in it. After all, it's just a bad day, not a bad life!
I know it isn't cool to say this, but take time to put the gadgets down once in a while. Let peeps know how to get a hold of you in an emergency, but live some analog time out there with a cup of coffee and a good friend, face to face, smile to smile, laugh for laugh. You will be astonished by how amazing you feel afterward!