Reflections on my Facebook Fast

I was driving along minding my own business at the beginning of this year with a knot in my stomach. I did all that my coach had taught me and began to meditate/pray/reflect into this simple question (something a bit new for me. A shoulder shrug and never a second thought has been my style), the question; “Where did this anxiety come from?

I came up with a list; a lack sleep, a fight I’d had with my wife, and then it struck me, I was in the middle of one of those discussions on Facebook that involve me against another with combative ideas on a topic (this one being environmentalism), and in between comments I would go about wondering, “What will he say in response to my last comment, what will I say in response to that last comment?” And, the bigger question that came to mind in my car that day…”Who is ‘HE‘ ?”

“He”…well I am just not sure who he is. I know he got to be a ‘friend’ on Facebook somehow. Normally I abide by a rule that I have had to have met a person face to face before agreeing to be friends. But somehow this stranger to me (sorry if you are reading this stranger/friend and we are old mates, I just can’t place you!) But this person ‘had me’. He had control of my emotions to the point of a knot in my stomach and anxiety in my emotions, he was taking up hours of my day, at least week. Did I enjoy the ‘banter’? I’m not sure I did, not with him, well maybe sometimes. It was respectful. it was mutual, we even stuck up for each other when someone else dug the knife in with comments, but I was never going turn this guy over to my way of thinking nor he, me. It felt, in a way, a kind of violence, a grenade slinging from our Facebook trenches. 

So I quit.

Not just that conversation. Nor that friendship on Facebook. I quit (At least for a few months) Facebook all together. It felt like a good thing to do, it felt like it had a kind of hold on me. Not just with this guy, hours were spent surfing, watching endless animals falling off couches, people smashing into walls on their bikes, along with an ever growing “Watch Later” list of interesting teaching videos from people who seem to have more time than me to watch ‘deep teaching’…which in turn gave me anxiety around my inadequacies of not being ‘deep’ enough our not managing my time like ‘others’ who seem to be able to watch endless teaching videos or …. ok…I know – I’ve got work to do 🙂

Two weeks ago was Easter Sunday, my marker point for re-downloading The App. I did it with minimal fanfare, in fact it took me a few days before downloading it onto my devices. I jumped on, made about six posts in 15 minutes and read a little, but it felt like I was not that keen, an addiction broken?

A few days later I sat down with a few minutes to spare and there it was, a post from THAT guy. Immediately I felt the vertigo of falling into a void of antagonism and argument, of oppositional hand grenades…

I de-friended him.

I felt empowered. I started surfing again. I surfed around for an hour, I read articles, a watched dogs falling off couches…I was back!

So what had changed?

I (re?)discovered that I can be drawn endlessly into idol time wasting. Facebook makes that easy. But so does Twitter and so does Instagram. When I went off Facebook my use of these other two programs went through the roof! I process publicly. With or without technology, I use people to help me discover what I really believe. I love a big wide community like Facebook with all it’s diversity of humanity (at least my handful of ‘friends’ is pretty diverse). I love ‘putting it out there’ and seeing what happens. Yes, sometimes I ‘bait’ (just ask my mother!), sometimes I suffer the anxiety of tense interactions. But If I can manage that anxiety, if I can keep my interaction to people I am in relationship with, at least to people I remember meeting and engaging with at some point, then I am content. People ask, why can’t you use ‘real’ face to face people to have these conversations with? My answer is; these ARE real people, they live in all places over the world, Facebook does not make them any less real than a telephone did when Mr Bell gave us that gift.

For every “yes” there is an equal and opposite “No”.

In terms of time wasting…I am the master of my own destiny! I am disciplined in many ares of my life, why not exercise some here? For ever hour I spend on Facebook, it’s an hour taken from something else, or someONE else. I choose.

I discovered there are people all over the place I disagree with on Facebook. Do I need to cut everyone of them off? We used to sing a song in Church; “All over the world are people just like us worshipping Jesus.” What a travesty. I am sure the writer didn’t intend it to mean that all over the world white middle-class evangelical Christians were gathering at the exclusion of LGBTQI, Aboriginal, Refugees, smelly homeless people…but that seems to be what it looks like! I don’t want to de-friend everyone I don’t look like, disagree with or everyone who disagrees with me and have a bland coloured Facebook community. Heck…that’s how many of us do church! I have de-friended a few people over the years, maybe 3 or 4 for various reasons, but in general, I think I like the diversity, I think I NEED the diversity.

Yes, I get misunderstood and judged by some as I do others. I have had many a face to face conversations explaining, apologising, and undoing knots created by my comments on Facebook (sorry friends!!) but I process publicly, I lack some discernment, I and have less at risk in my career (meaning…I don’t lead a church or bible college!!   🙂  ) I love to stimulate discussion and see people stimulated to think, argue and be challenged as I love the same back at me.

You may not see me on Facebook as much (right away), I find I am engaging with less obsessive passion and interest right now, maybe not a bad thing.

Will I fast from Facebook again? No doubt. We all need a cleanse, a detox to remind our systems of just who is running this show…NO I’m NOT a control freak 🙂 But that could be a post for another day…

 

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A return?

Been challenged by a mate, Keith, to return to the wider more comprehensive space of blogging. He suggests that my Facebook entries challenge him, but he thinks Facebook is limited in audience and smaller posts. I read Hamo’s blog and (although he is an amazing thinker and writer and I am not him) I do agree that I could put more into it. I do learn from interacting, I sometimes am not sure what I believe and it is from (some) people who respond to my posts that I gain a better understanding of what I really believe about a given topic.

This is no commitment to a return to blogging, just contemplating the idea.

Stuff White People Like – So Good it HURTS!

I can’t help myself, I love my Vespa, If I am not in my veggie powered 4WD (with Apple sticker on the back window), I drive my Vespa to sit in a non-franchised, un-corporate cafe drinking fairtrade organic coffee, in front of me on the table is my Apple Macbook with a Molskine notebook on top and my iPhone alongside.

I AM A STEREOTYPE – aghhhhhh, I need a new life!  🙂   This website I found has caught me out. I am predictable, readable and … aghhh it hurts so much I could not help but laugh … and laugh  … and laugh. I had tears running down my cheeks. Christine has been saying the things this guy blogs about for years to me. This is so clever!

He was on Triple J last week apparently. He writes about Things White People Like, here is his list – You need to visit his site!

Well Here I Am

I sit here with freezing hands trying to type. Just walked the dog.

I have not had a coffee yet today so I am not sure what my brain is meant to be doing 🙂

I am not even sure why I started to post. Seems all a bit grey today. Been a bit flat I think, no reason, just plodding. Sometimes I feel like I have to have something to give to people when they say, “what have you been up to?” I hate the cliches – “oh nothing much” or “the usual” and the like. But so often I feel the need to prove something, my significance? My sister asked me on the phone the other night, “Have you been busy?” l felt a cultural pressure to say “oh yes, so very very busy!” But instead I said “nope, not at all, it’s good”. But why do I read some hidden lines in there that would be saying (not nec from my Sister but I mean cuture in gen) “Well you are not significant, you need to be busy, that make you important or at least makes you feel important, or makes me think you are important”

Then, the irony, when I am busy…I feel important! I feel I am making a difference.

The trick? I think the trick is to draw my significance from deeper places than work and being busy. I need to gain satisfaction from sitting, form learning, from reading, from chatting with people, from just being. So there is my deep “pre-coffee” thought for Thursday morning.

Internet Issues

It is driving me up the wall…
Still no joy on the internet connection,
iinet have tested the modem – fine
I have disconnected all lines in the house apart from the modem – still drops out, meaning it is not internal interference.
IInet then tested the line between the exchange and my modem and think they picked up a loss at the 2km mark, so now it’s over to telstra to find out why I have a drop out 2km from my house, if this is actually so.
Meanwhile I have discovered tat I can get about 10 – 15 minutes of internet before having to shut down the modem and start it again.
Grrrrrrr, getting heaps of reading and brick paving done though!