I gave up Facebook a month ago, expecting a better and easier life. Let me tell you, it became anything but . . . at first. Then God began to show me what I’d been missing.
by Becky Arganbright
About a month ago, I gave up Facebook, expecting a better and easier life. Let me tell you, it’s been anything but. All I heard from those who gave up Facebook was how their life instantly got better and they were a better person for it. A better mom, a better wife, a better husband, a better dad. I’m not sure if these people were just skipping a huge chunk of their story or if things really were this great, but in any case, this is not what happened for me.
I too, wanted to be a better mom and a better wife. I wanted to be more attentive. Have more time. So it only made sense to give up the time-sucker that Facebook tends to be, sucking up not only all my time but all my brain cells with it. I felt that God gave me His “thumbs-up” (pun intended) approval as He was the one who gave me the idea to give up Facebook to start with.
But instead of instant relief and happiness like I had expected, I became depressed. I was sad. I felt lonely. I may have even spent a night or two pathetically imploring the heavens, “Why won’t anyone call me???” Yet, despite all that, I do not want to go back to Facebook.
Let me tell you why.
I used to love Facebook. I was on there every spare moment that I had. I would talk to my friends, show them pictures of my kids. We would gab about “mom stuff” and share cleaning tips. I would read their posts on their walls and they would read mine. We “liked” each others’ pictures. It was fun. It was like an on-going “moms group.” Whenever I had a moment to spare or needed a break from the kids, I’d go on Facebook, and someone that I knew would be there. They would listen to me vent or complain or share a cute story about one of the kids. Yes, I liked Facebook and I saw nothing wrong with it, as long as it didn’t take over my life. I had said this often to my husband, my mom, and mostly, to myself.
And yet, Facebook was as far as my social life went. I didn’t know anyone beyond Facebook and everyone that was on Facebook either lived far away and/or I had never even met them. The friends that were local, the ones I went to school or worked with were now only Facebook friends and they didn’t see the need to connect with me since they already knew everything that was going on in my life from my posts. They had seen my kids’ pictures, watched the video of my daughter’s first piano recital, seen all my pictures of house renovations and heard all my funny stories. We were all “caught up” and there was no need to connect.
And so the void got a little deeper, a little bigger. Every Facebook friend that I added on my list was one more friend who no longer was in my “real” life. The more friends I had, the lonelier I became. Ironic, huh?
The weird thing about Facebook—my virtual world of perfection—is that I had no idea who my real friends were, and I didn’t like that. I didn’t like how instant friendships began and I didn’t like how suddenly they ended. I didn’t like how squabbles began and lines were crossed. I didn’t like how people that I thought were good and decent people (based on all their posts and pictures) could suddenly become so snarky, so mean-spirited to one another. It made me realize I didn’t know these people at all. It left me feeling unsettled and on shaky ground.
And so, with all these reasons, I deleted my Facebook account and left all my friends, and no one even noticed. Instead I turned to my family, expecting a sense of security, now that my feet were back on solid ground and my head out of virtual reality.
All those “quick breaks” and “spare moments” had to be spent somehow by those who were waiting around for me to get off of Facebook. And during the waiting, bad habits were forming—so slowly—that I didn’t even notice.
Now that I was off of Facebook and my head was coming out of its fog, I began to notice things around me. I noticed that, boy, the kids sure are whiney! Or that my oldest was beginning to get a real chip on his shoulder with a sassy mouth. And since when did Dennis (my husband) get so addicted to his iPad? The house was so messy—why was it so hard to get anything done? I had no energy and more time than I knew what to do with. I had thought getting off Facebook would make my life better. And yet, I felt like I was in hell.
I felt trapped, like a mouse cornered between a wall and a cat. I pointed my finger at God, saying, “This was your idea—help me!” Little did I know that all of these frustrations were actually a positive thing; healing was happening even though it didn’t feel like it. Normally this is when I would turn on my laptop and lose myself in Facebook limbo. I had never gone this far before in my journey of letting go of my Facebook addiction, and now God was forcing me to see my life for what I had let it become.
I had never gone this far before in my journey of letting go of my Facebook addiction, and now God was forcing me to see my life for what I had let it become.
My addiction to my “fantasy world” began by escaping what I couldn’t face in my own life. I hated to face the fact that my time of having babies has most likely come to an end, and instead of bouncy babies, I have to watch my son enter a new and difficult stage of pre-adolescence. I didn’t want to face messes that never ended or dishes that never got washed or floors that were always sticky. I didn’t want to face my husband who seemed to always be stressed and worried over money. I didn’t want to face my three-year-old’s tantrums when he didn’t get his way. It is no wonder that I created my own little life on Facebook, only posting the happy pictures or telling the funny stories. I had to create an escape and Facebook was the perfect hideout. Instead of relying on God for help and comfort, I relied on my comfort from Facebook and “friends.”
Instead of relying on God for help and comfort, I relied on Facebook.
Reality is not nearly as pretty or glamorous as when it’s being filtered through Facebook. I have not taken nearly as many pictures as there have not been many “Kodak moments.” We have had to deal with a lot of behavioral issues with the kids, marital issues and yes, dishes and laundry. I have had to do some deep thinking to figure out why it’s so hard to get any chores completed, such as the dishes or laundry—only to discover that because of my lack of self-discipline, naturally nothing gets accomplished. I had become so accustomed to going on Facebook whenever I wanted, that chores got done when “they got done.” Simple as that.
Loneliness and boredom were my two constant tempters. Not having Facebook as my crutch for validation and false comforts any longer, I had to figure out how deal with these things head-on. Though I love my family dearly, I didn’t want to be around them every minute of the day. I had to find a new way to relax.
I learned to go back to books. Mostly, spiritual books, as I often needed a little motivation to keep plowing away at my day. Five or ten minutes of quiet was often all I needed to get back to those dishes or deal with that tantrum. I began to learn to sit and relax and even learned to love the quiet. The back porch became my new best friend, as well as the garden.
If I get terribly lonely, I call someone who is not on Facebook. I do this mainly because it’s the people who are not on Facebook who are willing to communicate by phone. Instead of just waving to my neighbors, I occasionally cross the street to talk to them. And even the guy that works as a greeter for Walmart has become a new friend in my life. “There she is!” he always says, since I shop there every Wednesday. It’s nice to be recognized, to hear a voice. To know who your friends are. I don’t have many friends, but at least I know who’s real.
I am learning to be quiet; to not share every little bit of news in my life. This was very important for me. Facebook was my platform, the place I could always tell the latest news of my life. But there are some things about the family that should remain private. “Go and tell no one” (Matthew 8:4) has been a constant refrain in my head. I no longer feel anxious to share every detail of my family’s life. If people really want to know what’s going on in our lives, they can pick up a phone and call.
It’s true that life became more difficult, not easier, when I gave up Facebook, but clearly, it has been getting better. Life was only difficult because I used Facebook as a way to escape it. That is why I will never go back. God doesn’t want us to escape life, He wants us to live it. And He doesn’t want us to depend on Facebook for friendship or love or even communication, He wants us to depend on Him. We were made to love and be loved, and hitting a “like” button every so often isn’t love. In a sense, we are starving each other for love. We were created to reach out and touch one another’s heart. And while Facebook is handy for bridging the gaps of miles, it should never be a replacement for a real relationship.
We were made to love and be loved, and hitting a “like” button every so often isn’t love.
Life is loud and chaotic in my house. We still have our problems, but I suppose that is just life. I still get behind in work and facing those dishes isn’t nearly as fun as counting “likes.” I still have times when I’m bored and a book just doesn’t cut it. But I still don’t go on Facebook because I know that my happiness isn’t there.
I turn to my family now, and I have found my solid ground. It is in my vocation as wife and mother. It is in my faith to love God and love my neighbor. It is not in Facebook. Life is so much more than a “like” button.
Want even more reason to give up Facebook (or at least moderate your use of it)? Check out Facebook Is Bad for You, and Giving It Up Will Make You Happier.