Why I Broke Up With Facebook
Have I ever told you I’m a huge Leonardo DiCaprio fan? Ah, yes, even though Taylor Swift denounced him in her latest album, she’ll never change my mind. One of my favorite movies of his is “Inception.” If you’ve never seen it, shame on you, but I’ll (attempt) to recap the story in a few sentences. Leo (Dom) and his wife, Mal, are able to enter into the dream world using a new military technology. After being sedated for a few hours with this technology, they were able to essentially build and live an entire life of 50 years together in their conjoined dream (cause, you know, you can literally have an entire dream in five minutes that you feel spans for five years). Once they awake, Mal is unable to face the fact that the dream isn’t reality, and she insists in living in the dream world. And that’s the basis of the storyline. That doesn’t even begin to really give you the whole plot, but I’ll stop here and omit any spoilers. I hope I’ve intrigued you enough to rent this movie on Friday night.
The other day, for about the twentieth time, I deactivated my Facebook account. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Part of me loves “connecting” with people, and the other half of me hates how much time I waste on it. So, the cycle goes on and on- deactivate, re-activate, spend too much time on it, get angry, deactivate, etc. I hate it. I really do. I grab it when I get tired, before I go to bed, at events, etc. But it’s kind of like, “Yeah, I hate you, but this is just the way we live, right?” What to do, what to do?
In my conflict, I decided to pick up a book my small group read a while back. It’s called “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You” by Tony Reinke. I thumbed through parts of the book and soaked in others. As I read, I hit a truth bomb towards the end. In the conclusion, the author discusses the “nothing strategy” addressed in C.S. Lewis’ novel Screwtape Letters. Reinke starts with a short narrative that we can all relate to- he gets home from work, plops down, and begins to peruse Facebook. Minute after minute, story after story, he flicks through a dozen disconnected stories. This is where he explores the idea that Satan uses a tactic of enticing man to do essentially nothing with the best years of his life. C.S. Lewis describes it this way in his novel:
“[the Nothing strategy is]… very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years, not in sweet sins, but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them… or in the long, dim laberyinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.”
That’s when a lightbulb went off for me. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why my Facebook habits were wrong. I immediately thought of “Inception.” I was Mal. I was trapped in a device of my own making, a world that wasn’t real. I had subconciously become convinced that the virtual world of Facebook was more beautiful and demanding than my real life, that it was worth my time. I was spending hours on it a day. I have two small little boys that God has gifted me with, and my mind was always on my phone, what I could post, what other people were posting. It sounds so dumb to even say that, but it had become almost an addiction to me. As Reinke described it, it was like my phone was a high maintence, needy boyfriend that was sucking the life out of me and gave nothing in return. When I read the words written by Lewis, I knew that my phone was what Satan was using to accomplish his “nothing” strategy in my life, and I don’t want to give him that stronghold. I don’t want to look back in thirty years and wonder where I spent all my time.
I say all that to say, that is why Facebook and I broke up. It’s been a long time coming, but that’s where you are, Facebook. Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me. But we can still be friends.
I didn’t get rid of it and deactivate, but I did set boundaries. It’s time I get my heart right and step back. I need to remember that I’m in real time here with my family. I have books I haven’t read that need reading. I have children that need a present mama. I have a God that loves me and wants me to give Him my whole heart, but how can I do that when my Facebook account has become my idol?
I want to acknowledge that I realize I’m writing this, and it’s likely you’ve come across this post on Facebook or some other social media site. It may make me look like a total hypocrite, but hear me out. I fully plan to keep my blog on Facebook because I do believe that God uses it for good in so many ways. The platform itself isn’t the issue. In this fallen world, it’s a sin and self discipline issue. I’m not saying you have to be like me or that I’m more holy than you- AT ALL. I sincerely hope most you have more self discipline than I do. I have a personality that gets addicted to things easily, and I’m fully aware that it’s one of my vices. I’m not saying you need to take down your social media accounts and only communicate with people in person. I’m not saying you should get rid of your smartphones. I’m not saying you can’t read articles online. Nope, not at all.
Here’s what I am saying. Smartphones and social media have a place in our lives, and if used wisely and heeded to God, they’re invaluable tools. I order my groceries on my phone, bank, send emails, take photos, read the news, find recipes, etc. It’s like an extension of my brain, and those are all good things! I am saying, as Christians, we need to guard our hearts and protect them against any idols. We need to remember the ministry God has given to us. We need to remember that God has called us to have self control. And if your phone has put all that on hold for temporary satisfaction, then it’s time we rethink things.
This isn’t a call to ditch your smartphone or social media accounts. This is a call to accountability and exercising boundaries. Like anything used in excess, it can become a hinderance to our relationship with God and others. And do you know what? Since cutting back on Facebook and other social media, I have such a peace about it. I’ve finished reading a book I had on my nightstand for weeks, am more focused, and I’m sleeping better. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I’m by no means perfect, and I still have a long way to go. But I am so glad God is still working on my heart.
I urge you to search your hearts and the scriptures to see if there’s a change you need to make in your life before the “nothing” strategy engulfs your life and it’s too late.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3