by Gabriella Karina
I never, ever thought of giving up Facebook for Lent or anything else. For me, Facebook and friendship was like toothpaste and toothbrush or milk and cereal. I get to be in touch with people I know from all over the world in an instant at my fingertips. I get to learn about events around campus, keeping myself up-to-date with my friends, acquaintances, celebrities and stores. Not to mention, I get to see what my roommate from freshman year is up to!
On Thursday after Ash Wednesday, however, I had an interesting conversation with a couple people that caused me, a Facebook addict, to give it up. I discovered that giving up Facebook for Lent may not be the easiest thing to do, but it is definitely worth it.
With the routines of life, I found myself simply going through the motions of life. Though I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me and I am interested in the subjects that I’m studying, I felt that life was very mundane. There was no excitement in it, and I felt that I was almost losing the spring in my steps. My academics, my faith journey and my relationships with others were pretty much very ordinary. Suddenly, I realized that I no longer make as much effort to grow in my faith and that I had unintentionally drawn myself apart from some of my most cherished friends. After all, who is not busy with their own schedules, to-do lists and personal concerns at BC?
With the demands of school, work and other activities, I spent most of my free time on Facebook to reconnect / keep in touch with my friends – or at least, that’s what I thought. However, after all of those hours that I spent on Facebook, I found my heart empty and dry. I know that if I wanted to be honest, I usually spend more time doing useless things on Facebook than purposely reaching out to the people whom I care about the most. Although Facebook is a great innovation that helps people to always have the opportunity to be connected to one another, it is not a strong-enough medium to help me develop real and rich friendships with those around me. Additionally, Facebook does not allow me to show my friends that I truly care about them. I think that writing in (or responding to) someone’s wall, liking one’s status, etc. neither means nor shows that I am being attentive and loving that person.
Therefore, I started to consider deactivating my account for the season for some reasons. First, I was tired of getting bombarded with so much information every time I logged in which ranged from the ones that I’m happy to see to the ones that I would wish that I never saw. Second, I noticed that I have over 900 “friends” on Facebook. Some are my friends, but a lot of them are merely acquaintances with whom I love to be in touch every once in a while. I pondered about this fact for a while, and I realized that if I want to be the woman I have always wanted to become, I have to invest more time with my loved ones and to really let my family and friends know how much I value our relationships. Third, I want to start appreciating the gift of each moment that has been given to me from above. To be honest with you, it is often difficult for me to live in the moment. For instance, when I’m in class, I often think what I’m going to get for lunch. When I’m at lunch with friends, I think about the work that I need to do or the work that I should have been doing. When I’m out with my friends, I would check my iPhone every now and then to make sure that I didn’t miss a text, an email, a Facebook message and so on. Someone once told me that, “wherever you are, be all there (before it’s too late).” Therefore by taking some time off from Facebook, I know that I would eliminate a big chunk of possible distractions in my life and wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, I can try my best to focus on “being all there.”
As expected, I had my adjustment period of life without Facebook. Many times during the day, I thought about “walls,” “statuses,” and “post tags.” At the same time, however, it was also very peaceful. For once, I don’t get 40 notifications a day, read 100 different statuses or see 1000 different pictures from my 925 friends. Instead of being on Facebook, I bought myself a beautiful, bright journal that I’ve been using almost every day since I’m away from Facebook. Journaling has been nothing but a wonderful and helpful experience for me. I get to express my thoughts in writing, and also I get to see the progress I’ve made and see the areas that I need to work on in life. With journaling, I get to look back to my day / my week and see the works of the Lord in my life and in those around me.
I have learned many things during this Lent. However, if I have to pick and share one thing, I would say that I’ve discovered that perhaps my desire for intimacy and friendship with others is not that much different from God’s desire for intimacy and friendship with me, with us. John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This Lent, by learning how best to love other people, by paying more attention to my loved ones, their interests, and their concerns. I have also come to realize once again that I am too, His beloved.