Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fasting from Facebook: Fruits of Famine

My Facebook Fast:

A Conservative Catholic's Hiatus from Social Media

Day 1: Woke up excited as usual to get on Facebook first thing to see what all my FB friends were doing. Then realized.. ICK.. I can't do that. Fingers still automatically tapped to find it on my phone and my iPad, before I realized I had wisely taken it off. Well, what else will I do? Maybe do my morning prayers first. Okay, good. But, I really, really, really want to do something, anything compulsive on my computer- web searches! That will fill the void. Why can't I stop this? Am I getting nowhere as far as developing self-control?

Um, yeah, well it is still day one. And morning.

Bookmarking articles everywhere I wish I could share but can't. That's funny. That's enlightening. That's amazing. I want to show you! show you! show you, world! Please! Why, oh why God did I decide to go on this Facebook fast? I have such great things to share with the world! And now, they'll never know.

I never realized it was so important for me to keep the world informed of current issues.

Day 2

Isn't that cute, the way my cat woke me up this morning? And I can't tell anyone on FB. Drat! Breakfast looked beautiful too. No one will get to see a photo of my delicious meal. *Sigh!* I was going through the news, and I saw some really ugly churches and compared them to the beautiful ones of yesteryear. And some vestments too. And, I was unable to post that in my liturgical abuses group or ANY of my traditional Catholicism groups. What kind of fun is that?

A combat marine survived a head shot thanks to the intervention of St. Michael. What if nobody posted that? Would the world know about the miracle without my letting them know? And there is another Cardinal with an opinion that goes against what I feel Jesus intended. Where is my group where we can all vent and roll our eyes and finally just pray because we resign ourselves to bemoan how it's not our job to judge that?

Sad and grumpy. Hating it. I'm still finding other compulsive things to do online, like obsessive online searches, which I am feeling powerless to stop. Somehow, I miss the compulsivity outlet served by FB. Took two online quizzes at Psych Central which confirmed, I am a "high intensity user" and "very likely a FB addict." Realized I am a "high intensity everything," and providentially found another intense, yet not addictive thing to do.  Involved moody music and dark art and poetry.

Day Three

This is like being a kid and you're grounded and not being able to talk to  your "fwends." Even if they're virtual and not in person, they are still my friends and I miss them. My life was much more peaceful when I stuck to sane limits.  I want that back. But, I let that commitment slip and so I honestly felt the only way to get it back under control was to do this "fast."

I made a list of all the many reasons why spending too much time on Facebook is bad for me, to remind myself I am doing the right thing. Mainly, Facebook was standing in the way of my serenity and connection with God, because all that constant stimulation interrupted my contemplation and sometimes took precedence over my prayer time. 

Day Four

Still won't say I'm loving this, but I'm appreciating it more. What I appreciate most is that after today, most of the week will be over. But, in addition to that, my internal life has more of a "flow" to it. I am calmer and more at peace. My reflections seem to be deepening.

Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Normally, I would be creating a new Facebook cover with angels on it and trying to find controversial discussions about angels, so I could make sure everyone knows that although it is not forbidden to name your guardian angel, it is also not encouraged, according to Vatican documents.

I'm thinking about how much time I spend on Facebook "setting people straight" and being the public authority on all things righteous, good and holy. Goodness, it must be good to be queen... so much so, that it is very good to abdicate the throne. Instead of trying to do great and mighty things in the world through posting about important issues, my inner experience of contemplative life is soaring.

As a result of contemplating today's prayers, mass and readings, I'm feeling closer to my guardian angel than ever before. I've worked out some issues that have been bothering me in prayer. I've been way more creative, because I'm not distracted by things like laughing at animal videos and wanting to see how many people liked my post about ending the satanic mass... AND I'm closer to the end of the tunnel of this long, long week.

Maybe my guardian angel will help me with my Facebook problem.

Day Five

There's just something exciting about rooting out the horrible things in the world, whether they be abortion or satanism, ISIS or poor grammar. There is a sense of strength, as though through a simple click on my computer, I can somehow sway and influence the world. It feels powerful. It feels purposive and meaningful. I'm sure it is, when many of us work together on social media to promote a just solution to these problems.

But, so much of this is just a distraction for me from going within, and I can do a LOT more good in the world by going within to be with God and let Him work on me and develop me into a better servant. Praying is far more productive than "clicking" on Facebook. Indescribably more productive, in fact, since only God can affect change.

I'm starting to get the feeling that when I go back on Facebook, it will not be the same. After seeing the themes I have seen in myself in these few days, I no longer think being on Facebook for large periods of my time is a very useful way to spend my time. Maybe it won't even matter when the "Magic Monday" of October 6 comes for me.

Day Six

Today, I've read through a few news stories, all of which upset me. An author wants to know why the Duchess of Cambridge has been "forced" to go through another pregnancy so soon. As if giving birth to new life is a cruel sentence imposed on us through society. And this is printed in The Guardian. As I read through the comments, I see that what is appallingly obvious to me isn't even considered by anyone. They are all debating whether she is "forced" or not, as if she had been raped or artificially inseminated against her will, as if it was cruel to Kate Middleton for her to give birth to human life when it might be inconvenient to her.
An article also attacked Jessa Duggar for the "incredibly insensitive" comment of comparing abortion to the Holocaust. Almost everyone who is pro-life agrees. The sanctity of human life is ignored in both situations. And yet, of course, Jessa is being shamed. I did send Jessa a tweet to say, "You go, girl," but that wasn't Facebook, so I enjoyed the moment- probably a bit more than I should.

Also, another person, Peter Kassig, is slated to be killed by ISIS, and yet a transgender teen is being "victimized" because he cannot shower in a locker room with young teenage girls. Yes, my blood pressure is rising. But, if anything is predictable about society, it's that society isn't going to go my way. And God is still on His throne. And we know how all this ends.

So, deep breath. This is good. It's easier to pull away and not stay on the topic half an hour, debating until my stress level rises to the moon.

But, my opinions are not likely to become popular, regardless. I need to face this.

Get over it, Laura. Blog, post, let people hate you. It's not your job to change their minds. Go on with your life and do other things. Get off the stupid web. Live.

Day Seven

Even though I'm going back to Facebook in the morning, I am not the same person who was on there last week. I think I will be less prone to get back into compulsive-mode again. Well.. I can't promise any of those things.. We'll see how I do!

You know, in the old days, when we wanted to talk about something, we talked about something. To people. With our voices. Sometimes, we looked at them with our eyes and reached out to them with our hands, too.

Making "social media" our main social outlet can lead us to forget what "social" is even supposed to mean. Granted, for those of us with social challenges and anxiety, having a low-stress social outlet is a great blessing, but whenever possible, we should not forget to challenge ourselves in ways that can move us beyond that. Why not call our friends more?

I am Laura Paxton and I am a contemplative, an author, publisher and app developer. Although it is important to stand up for important causes, the less time I spend stressed out and fixated on them, the better. I have better things to do in the world.

But Monday still can't get here fast enough!

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