Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Lessons From a Facebook Fast
Exactly one week ago I began a seven day fast. This was not a traditional fast where I didn't eat food. I went on a social network website fast. Like many of you for the past couple of years now I have used Facebook and Twitter almost daily. The reasons I went on the fast were all personal. It had to do with me feeling that I was spending way too much time surfing those sites for one thing, and by eliminating them for a few days I figured I would find out if there was any real benefit to me using them at all. Here are a few things I discovered during my time away:
- Social networking sites really do help me stay connected with people. Other than all of the useless stuff on Facebook (i.e. Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc.) the other elements (status updates, photos, private messages) have helped me know what's going on in the lives of people I care about. It took less than 48 hrs. away for me to feel disconnected. Facebook and Twitter should never replace actual connections with people such as talking on the phone or going to lunch, but it does allow me to stay connected with a larger group of people more efficiently. There's no way I can know that a friend from out of town's kid made honor roll, or that someone at Freedom needs prayer unless I am talking to those people everyday. In reality, I can only keep up with a handful of people at a time if I am required to daily talk with them, but with Facebook it allows me to know what's happening with hundreds of people.
- I need to set times when I will check Twitter and Facebook. One of the reasons I felt so addicted to these sites was that every time I passed a computer I felt a need to quickly log on and see what I was missing. It was like I had to know right away if I had a new friend request or if someone had written on my wall. I haven't yet figured out how it will work, but in the next day or two I am going to set times that I will check the sites, and also set times where the sites are off-limits. Also, as a Pastor there is an added dimension that I need to protect myself from. I have to make decisions on a daily basis about the direction of Freedom, and often those decisions make people upset. Some of the folks who get upset with me like to talk about how upset they are, and how I should be doing things the way they would like for them to be done. Every now and then those type of comments end up in a status update, in a veiled non-specific way of course. The other limit I will set for myself is that if I know someone is talking about me or the church then I don't need to look at their Facebook profile to see what they are saying. All it does is make me want cuss people out. Which I generally try to not do. When I figure out what my self-imposed limitations will be as far as times are concerned I will let you know.
- The best way to get the word out about this blog is through Twitter and Facebook. I didn't blog last week after I made the decision to fast. This wasn't really by design, I just realized that I couldn't list in my status update that I had written a new blog. Other than the handful of folks who subscribe, the large majority of folks who read this here blog find out that I have posted something new when I alert them to it on Facebook. Again, these sites help keep us connected.
So there it is, it seems that I am in this whole e-networking thing for good now. My advice to you would be, don't let anything other than Jesus take over your life and that includes the internet.