I gave up participating on Facebook for Lent. I learned a lot in the process. Facebook is simply a tool which is only as good as the person using it. I would have loved to have completely stepped away, but I’m in a couple of online groups that meet through Facebook so I couldn’t. Being a spectator instead of an active participant on Facebook taught me many things.
#1 I am not the Facebook Teacher/ Librarian
I spent 20 years in education as either an English teacher or librarian teaching research skill and information literacy. I had to learn that I am not the teacher/ librarian of Facebook. It isn’t my job to let people know that a source isn’t reliable or that information they are sharing is incorrect. Nor is it my job to share information to others.
#2 People don’t care about my opinion
I learned that most people, even if they ask in a post what people think, don’t want to know my opinion if it differs from theirs. And, really that’s OK. I had to learn that Facebook isn’t really a place to share opinions of hot topics. In person is the way to have such conversations. There is too much emotion on both sides, and I think messages can be misconstrued.
#3 I’m Definitely An Enneagram #1
It’s taken me time to come to terms that I am indeed an enneagram 1- a perfectionist. I never saw myself this way– After all, my home is far from perfect in the “picked up and clean” department. I do not pay attention to detail in any aspect of my life. My pastor helped me see that my perfectionism comes in situations. I obsess over how I want people to feel when they enter my home. I obsess over the experience that I want others to have if I am in charge of an evening or event. If I apply that to Facebook, I expected that space to be factual from highly respected sources. I learned that not everyone sees it that way. In other words, I wanted Facebook to be a perfect space– according to my definition of perfect!
#4 Facebook isn’t toxic, I am.
After taking a step back from Facebook, I realized that I was wrong in thinking that Facebook is a toxic space. I learned an important lesson about myself. I was becoming toxic in my thoughts about others and what they were sharing. There was no where to look, but inside my heart.
#5 It’s all a matter of PRIDE
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
I had to really examine my heart to find the root of why I was experiencing the gut wrenching feelings I was having when reading certain posts. I realized that it was really a matter of pride— I thought I was right. It was a matter of pride to judge others or the sources they were sharing.
People tend to follow accounts that support their viewpoints. I am not to judge what others choose to believe or follow. When others share an article they feel will enlighten or educate their followers, I can choose not to read it if I feel the source is not reliable.
However, I don’t have to follow everyone that I have been following. I did manage to do a sweep of “friends” after the first of the year. I simply had to unfriend some people. It was the only way that I knew to maintain my respect for some of my friends– again a matter of pride on my part, but it is the only thing I knew to do.
On a side note, when I was a middle school librarian, I did a lesson with students on website evaluation. They had to use the strategies we discussed for making sure sources were accurate on several different site. None of the sites were legitimate. One site that always threw them was the Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website. The kids always put that it was real because there was a real picture of an octopus in a tree.
I think of this tree octopus often while scrolling Facebook. Thinking of the tree octopus makes me pause at articles and evaluate for myself if it is something that I want to read, something I even want to think about. It gives me pause to evaluate what I am about to read.
#6 It was hard
Not wishing people Happy Birthday, not ooooing and awwwing over friends’ grandbabies’ pictures, not commenting on important family posts were all hard. I missed interacting with others.
I do admit that I was a happier person while not participating. When I saw a post that ruffled my feathers, I simply kept scrolling instead of staying there trying to think of a semi-nice way to respond. No response is needed if I don’t agree with someone!!
I still have not yet participated or interacted with anyone on Facebook. I guess maybe I’m afraid that the old me will rear her ugly head, and go back to my negative thoughts about people. I don’t know if or even when I’ll start up again, but I pray that I can keep my thoughts under control.
I like Facebook. What a great, fun invention it is when I use it correctly. I know it can’t be rainbows and unicorns, but in a way, it can be whatever I want it to be. I intend to keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics, and have only happy posts and comments!! That will be rainbows and unicorns for me. I didn’t comment a lot, but the times I did, I was exacerbated, and it’s never good to do anything in that mindset.
I do miss commenting on victories of people I care about- one friend got to ring the bell at the end of her chemo treatments for breast cancer. It was so hard not to comment!!
My biggest takeaway- A comment or post on Facebook trying to set the record straight isn’t going to change anything.
What changes things is sharing uplifting posts that bring light and love to the world. All we need is love right? That’s certainly what the bible teaches! That’s how I wish to live my life.
Taking this pause from participating taught me to pause in general. The pause was a bigger picture for me- I can pause anytime and collect my thoughts and not have a knee jerk reaction!
Is it still my opinion that people are sharing things that are factually inaccurate or from sources that are not reliable? Yes, it is.
Am I going to comment on any of those posts? It is my prayer that I don’t.