This is by far the longest I’ve gone without Facebook and Twitter. For the most part I’m loving life: I’m not glued to my phone checking Tweets and status updates, I have a ton of free time that I don’t know what to do with, and I’m getting a lot more reading done. One other thing that came to mind just the other day, though, is a major challenge that the absence of social networking sites presents.
As those of you who know me are aware, I’m not the most outgoing person. I can be candid and energetic at times, but more often than not I’m the quiet kid in any given group. A couple years ago became an actual problem; I was too distant. Whenever I’d be with a group of close friends, I’d find ways not to participate in conversations. Sometimes I’d open a book and start reading even though I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was reading. My most common move was to find somewhere off to the side, out of the way (and out of eyesight of most people), and sit there to browse Facebook. Even though I’d be surrounded by close friends, I was still seeking the attention of Facebook friends.
Being real with someone – talking about deep, serious stuff – is so easy online. You can edit what you say before you post, you don’t have to face the disgusted reactions of others if you happen to write something stupid, and you don’t even have to leave home. It’s safe. It’s convenient. But, as I’ve recently found, it’s lacking.
My lonely feelings of late are probably mostly due to the fact that I’m not involved with any church. But they’re also partially due to the fact that I received most of my social interactions via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Once those platforms were removed, I now have to do something that I don’t like doing: work. I have to go out of my way to call up friends to hang out. I have to inconvenience myself just to get any kind of social exercise with friends or family. I can’t hide behind my computer screen anymore; I have to send my friend requests face to face.
My lazy side is not looking forward to this. It means more time away from my books, my journals, my blog, or whatever else I like doing, and more scheduling my days just to meet with other people. But I think the long-term benefits are going to far outweigh the upfront costs. It’s like my trip to Cost Co. tonight: I spent $139, but (if I stick to my schedule) I won’t have to spend a dime for a month – maybe even two months.
My point is this: Lent, which is what started this Facebook/Twitter vacation, is not just about giving up something; it’s about meeting with people. It’s about investing in God’s kingdom, His body, His church. It’s about going through the nitty-gritty stuff like heart-to-heart conversations or face-to-face confrontations. It’s about learning how to mend previously broken or damaged relationships and friendships without any mediator. It’s about learning how to tell a girl – in your own words, with your own voice – that you love her.
On second thought, Lent is about giving up something. Not Facebook or Twitter. Not alcohol or tobacco. Not movies or TV. Not coffee or soda. Not cookies or cake. Not burritos or burgers. Lent is a focus on the heart of Christianity. Christ demanded that we give up our selves – that we deny “me.” And you give up your self when you serve someone else. Once you’ve done that, then you’ll find out what specific thing you need to sacrifice.