Many of you may remember my post about Social Media within Our Marriage; in it, I described the process Michael and I went through during our engagement in order to figure out what role social media would have in our lives together - what sites we would frequent, use sparingly, or completely do away with all together. Ultimately, when it came to Facebook we decided to delete our individual accounts and create one shared account as "MichaelandStephanie (insert last name here)."
While some friends and family were very supportive of our reasoning behind this decision, we also got a lot of grief from people about it. Some people thought it unnecessary, some thought it silly, and some were just lamenting the fact that they couldn't feel as free to contact us individually on the site knowing that our spouse could see it, too (as if Facebook were the only means of communication these days??). Some of my friends even lamented our decision simply because it made our marriage a reality - reminding them that we are, after all, growing up (gasp).
Clearly Michael and I dismissed all of the "grief" and lamentation we received from our friends because we confidently made the decision as a couple, knowing what was best for us and our marriage. For the same reasons, Michael and I had also decided to use the site sparingly - only posting status updates about important things (like announcing if/when we move somewhere new, a pregnancy, etc.).
Personally, I loved the plan we had devised for our shared Facebook account. I thought it was downright brilliant.
So what happened when I departed Facebook for those 40(ish) days?
I didn't miss out on the announcement that a friend got engaged because one of my best friends who I talk to at least every couple weeks on the phone brought it up in one of our conversations about a day after our mutual friend posted the big update online (and I contacted said friend promptly via text to send her a brief but very excited congrats). Plus, realistically, this girl is a genuine friend and would not have taken offense had I somehow not heard about her engagement before I spoke to her next.
I didn't speak to any of my closest friends any less (in fact, I spoke to some of them more), nor was I unaware of anything important happening in their lives - because we maintained the same (if not better) phone, text, and/or Skype conversation routines that we've established since I got married 6 months ago.
I didn't have to deal with current events drama (i.e. the Pope resigning, electing a new Pope, the "gay marriage" debates, etc.) on a forum that lends itself to hurtful or uneducated memes, hateful speech, and people shouting their personal viewpoints or two cents from a virtual rooftop. Any real conversation I had about any of these things was far more productive and healthy than anything I probably would have seen on Facebook.
I successfully avoided what I'm sure would have been near occasions of sin - because let's be honest: when I read anyone's rude or ignorant comments (especially if it directly attacks my morals or religious beliefs) smeared all over a public forum it makes it far more difficult to be patient, loving, or charitable in my thoughts towards these people. Which is a subtle way that I believe Facebook is constantly contributing to spiritual warfare and keeping us from becoming the best, most holy versions of ourselves.*
I spent far less time obsessing over who said what, what certain exchanges between friends could have meant, whether other friends were talking to one another more than they talk to me, etc. Instead, I was able to plainly focus on my real life priorities - and therefore focused a great deal more time pouring love into the healthy relationships I'm blessed to have, including (and especially) my relationship with God. After all, the only conversations I needed to spend any time thinking about were the ones I was having. Who cared what others were saying to one another on Facebook?
I mean, really. When did Facebook become the definition of our real life identities or how close we are with friends? The answer is: never. We know where our true identity comes from (Galatians 3:26-27). Michael and I had plainly seen this when we first decided to do away with our individual accounts, but somehow my free time had gotten the best of me and I had started to get sucked back in. Thank the Lord we have an entire liturgical season that allows us to take a step back, examine where we're at in our relationship with God, and work to eliminate distractions and truly get back on track.
At the time, giving up Facebook hardly felt monumental...and I could barely see how much it helped me in my relationship with God, my husband, and others around me. But now that I have been able to once again access the website I realize just how much I wasn't missing out on and how much I gained through doing so. Thank you, God, for keeping me on track and getting my priorities straightened out even further.
And in case any of you are wondering, my new game plan is to avoid checking Facebook on weekdays (the days I have the most down time and could potentially end up wasting time). My weekends are usually spent entirely with my husband and being around other people, which should greatly reduce the amount of time I spend glancing at any updates.
*I'd like to note that while I may express sentiments of extreme dislike towards Facebook or other types of social media, I also recognize that different people utilize these sites in varied ways and not all of them are negative. Social media absolutely has the capability to be used for God's glory! But we must also make sure we evaluate our actual use of such things and whether or not it's helping or hurting our relationships with God, our spouse, or family and friends. If it helps you in yours, more power to you!
"And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'"