1) I was still social.
It’s strange, but before my vacation from Facebook when I was more connected to others online, I actually felt more alone, more disconnected. It was like I was relying on Facebook to keep me company or something. To build friendships for me.
I was worried being offline would thrust my social life backwards or into oblivion, so I became intentional with my efforts to be social while away from Facebook, and guess what? I remained connected with friends.
Wow, right? To actually pick up the phone, get together in person, or still utilize some technology such as email and text to nurture friendships.
As I learned the following 4 more lessons from my Facebook hiatus, I realized that no matter what, I am the one that can...and should...be intentional to be social beyond the computer screen in order to foster friendship and value community.
2) I renewed my friendship with my priorities.
I got to hang out with my priorities that I had neglected and taken for granted. I also remembered why I wanted to be a part of the social media world in the first place.
While spending time with my priorities, I witnessed my to-do and goals lists shrinking, because I was actually checking them off done! I was motivated, inspired, and productive.
Yet, every now and then, I was also really okay with choosing to be still and not check anything off. Before a month ago, I'd be online for hours with nothing to show for it except feeling guilty and drained. This past month, I found ways to relax that didn’t feel like I was wasting time or energy.
Mostly, I regained some self-control. By shining light on my priorities and what is important to me, I was able to dim the things that drew me away from where I wanted to dwell.
Will I venture into the dark side again? Most likely. But, I have more courage now to unplug again…and as often as I need to.
3) The power to turn it on…and off…is in my hands.
No one is forcing me to be on any social media. Nor is anyone forcing me to be online at any time for any reason. Yet, I began blaming social media for my bad mood when I would get upset about something I read in a post or comment. I fell in the trap of blaming and complaining without attempting to do my part to make things better.
And, to make things better, I needed to determine if and when I entered the online doors and how long I would stay before exiting. It’s in my power to not own what is not mine, and to own what is.
I needed to stop giving power to the images and words I scrolled upon that I allowed to affect me in unhealthy ways. And, I needed to take responsibility for what I could control: Me. My decisions. My thoughts. My actions. My ability to flip the switch on or off to my social media participation.
4) I didn’t miss what I didn’t know.
I thought I was going to miss out by not being “in the know” of what everyone was sharing in their posts. The funny thing is that I normally didn’t interact much while on Facebook. But, I sure did take it all in.
I knew what someone was eating that night and where they were checking into that day. I knew how much they ran or worked out and what accomplishments their kid received in school that week. I knew what political party they supported and how they felt about God. I could go on and on with all that one can learn about a Facebook friend.
So, what do we do with all of that info?
It can be a little bit of a power surge thinking we know something others not on Facebook don’t know. We can be the “source” of info. We can also be the source of what can cross the lines into gossip.
Why do we enjoy knowing so much? And, how are we sharing that info? Are we adding a little bit of our own assumptions?
I ask these questions, because…wait for it…(I am totally cringing as I am about to say this)…but I’m guilty. I’ve seen a vague posting, and my mind starts to wonder and fill in the gaps. When speaking with someone else, that filling of the gaps leaks into our conversation and voila, we’ve crossed over to the dark side.
Here’s the truth. I don’t miss what I don’t know. And, what I do know, I need to treat with respect. Period.
5) Where I choose to focus is where I will be.
It’s fascinating how comfortable the world has become in documenting personal thoughts and actions for all to know. We think what we share is only for our friends’ eyes, and thus, within a safe environment, but because of friends of friends of friends, etc., strangers can become privy to our world, too, opening the door to a place that may not always be friendly and respectful back.
It’s a personal choice to use social media, and it’s an individual choice as to why and how one uses it.
While I was unplugged from Facebook, I realized that my focus while on Facebook was mostly towards the conflicts, the negative news, and the hurtful comments between opposing beliefs. It seemed as if the more I looked for it, the more I saw of it.
And, that’s what disappoints me most. I was looking for it.
It’s like the saying goes about a bad car accident: we don’t want to look at it, yet we can’t look away.
I needed to change my gaze.
I needed time away to reflect on and acknowledge the above 4 lessons in order to be the person I wish to be while on social media.
If I prefer to see the benefits of Facebook, then I need to look for it and share it. If I want to see more encouraging posts, then I need to look for them and share them. If I want to see something different, I need to change my focus.
I learned some important personal lessons this past month. And, because of them, I am encouraged to turn the switch back on to my Facebook pages. (If you are not already a fan of my Encouragement For The Heart page, I invite you to be! Also, consider being added to my Encouragement For The Heart group!)
So, I share these lessons with you today with the hope that you might receive a sliver of encouragement for your own social media struggles IF you have any similar to mine.
Here's a quick run through of them again:
Everyone has their own reasons why and how they use social media. Do you know your why and how?
If you want your Facebook pages to be a positive social venue, it’s up to you to make it that way. It’s up to you where you choose to focus, because that’s where you will be. Where do you choose to focus?
It’s in your power to turn it on…and off…as needed. Your are in charge of how you respect the information you receive from your time on your Facebook feed. How do these statements speak to you today?
Your priorities need your friendship first and foremost. Are any of your priorities missing your friendship?
And, you can feel confident that you can, and should, still be social…the non-social media way. Do you agree?
What other lessons have you learned from being on, or away, from Facebook?
Thanks for reading!
Hi! I'm Bonnie.