Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I'm Not Giving up Facebook for Lent

In the years that I have been on Facebook inevitably every spring comes the status update "One more day until I sign off Facebook for Lent! If you need me you will have to find me in REAL LIFE! I spend way too much time away from my family and friends on the computer. See you after Easter!"  Typically the status update comes from one of my Presbyterian friends, of which there are many, or from another Christian non-Catholic denomination. This pronouncement makes me a little bit crazy.

The Presbyterian church I grew up in did not encourage giving something up for Lent as a spiritual practice.  I do not have a good understanding of it, but I do see how denying yourself something could be a meaningful experience.  I don't like the whole "giving up Facebook" thing because does it accomplish the goal?  Do you really grow closer to God and to your family through giving up Facebook for a few weeks?  That's one of my issues.  Another issue, is spending time on social media sites a negative in your life?

My first issue is with the whole "Facebook is evil" mentality.  I know that it does allow some people to isolate themselves within our society.  Facebook also does amazing things.  I am able to keep up with friends who live far away.  I would love it if I could visit more, or even sit down and write lengthy letters to them, but I do not always have the time.  I can jump on Facebook and see what they are up to and let them know I am thinking about them.  We can keep up with each other and still KNOW each other through social media.  I won't even get started on the people I have met online and become good friends with.  One of the best gifts of Facebook came to me yesterday.  I had two friends give birth yesterday, one a beautiful boy and one a beautiful girl.  I was able to see pictures of these beautiful babies within hours of their births.  Both families have friends and family around the world who were able to see these sweet babies.  Facebook can be a gift if you use it wisely.

My second issue is does what you are giving up accomplish your goal?  I'll admit that for several years I have not thought in terms of what I should give up for Lent, but what should I be doing to be more of the person God is calling me to be.  I know lots and lots of people do this.  It makes more sense to me in my relationship with God.  This year I have been focusing on being healthier so my Lenten pledge is to get 30 minutes of exercise every day.  I hope to pray every day while I walk to help me remember why I am doing it.  Hopefully at the end of Lent, I will not only feel closer to God, but be a healthier person.  If you are giving up Facebook, what are you replacing it with?  Websites? Books? Are you making an effort to consciously exchange that time for what you think your life is missing?  If you think Facebook is letting you miss out on time with your children, your family or your friends, are you giving your online time to those people to regain your connection?

I would love to hear if you have made a Lenten pledge this year! Have you given something up?  Are you adding something to your life?

Whatever faith you do or do not practice, I hope you have a beautiful spring!


Chele said...

Amen Amy! The Facebook thing drives me crazy at lent! I just don't understand. Our church is very big about the giving up something. I on the other hand have always used it as a reminder to spend more time with God in some way. Mine this year is to talk to him more, which I have honestly slacked on the past few months. Lent just reminded me that I need to intentionally take time to spend with him. I think I might start asking the people who have put these status updates up "what are you replacing Facebook with?" Lol. Love this post!

Andrea said...

Love this Amy and I completely agree! I don't really observe Lent but have done fasts before and it's so important to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

MommyB said...

I don't think it's about what you give up as much as why you give it up and what you do with the time spent on that given up thing and replace it with God time, which can really be anything.

Heather said...

Great post. You make some very valid points.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one. I don't understand the idea of giving up Facebook, or coffee, or sugar for Lent. It makes it too much like a new year's resolution. So you give up chocolate for a few weeks, then what? I don't think that is really the purpose of Lent. And if you're not going to do it for real, then why do it at all? How about giving up something meaningful? Something that will change your life and make you a better person. That would be a better Lent resolution.

robin said...

I'm not at all a good Catholic but I observe Lent faithfully, in that I try to do something to add something good to the world. I like to focus on the positive so for 40 days I am saying-- what can I GIVE today? Whether it be a compliment, a donation, my help or my time.

As for Facebook- that's I connect TO people throughout the day. Giving up FB or any other online endeavor would only serve to isolate me.

Rhonda said...

Hi Amy,
I am your newest follower...I also follow you on Twitter! I love your blog....great job! I am brand new to blogging; therefore, I am learning but I am having so much FUN!!!! Blogging gives me an opportunity express my creative side at the same time show my audacious FAITH in God!
Hoping you will drop my blog to visit!
Looking forward to getting to know you!
~~~rhonda~~~ xoxo
on twitter: Twittle__Dee