The End is Near.
We’re nearing the end of Lent, and my social media sabbatical as a Lenten fast is nearing its end as well. Before talking about my social media future, I want to revisit the last couple of weeks in terms of both the social media fast and the 1x weekly alcoholic beverage limits.
This one has been interesting. I was quite conscious of the fact that I’d been having a drink a night for over a year now (closer to two maybe, but I can’t quite remember the switch from once-in-a-while to nightly). However, what I hadn’t realized was how that habit infiltrated my entire being. Again, I had a drink a night. If I ever had two in a night it was a “big deal.” Still, I became aware how accustomed my body and my mind got used to that one drink a night and, around week three of this Lenten season, I started to “crave” the weeknight drink.
I didn’t “cave,” but rather sat in the feeling, talked to my husband about it, and gave myself space to think through what it all meant. Was I addicted? No. I didn’t feel addicted, and I know what addiction feels like on physical, mental, and spiritual lines. So, if I wasn’t ready for an AA meeting, what was this feeling? Habit and discomfort. At the end of the day I want to decompress and relax and, over the course of the last two years, I’d trained my brain to associate the need for relaxation with a cocktail. When the cocktail was removed from the equation, my mind ran on fumes for a while before sending me the “warning” signal that it didn’t know how to calm itself down. Moreover, I wanted to be scrolling Facebook and Instagram while sipping said cocktail. Was I able to enjoy either in that scenario? No.
My acupuncturist recommended that I read “French Women Don’t Get Fat” sometime. Not solely because of my food issues, but because she said the book does a great job of talking about pleasure, and how we in the US feel about pleasure and use it or abuse it. We talked about looking forward to the one drink a week (or, as she recommends, a month) as a “ceremony” of sorts. Use the best/my favorite liquors, enjoy it in the afternoon/early evening with my husband in a quiet house, and really breathe in the experience. When I do that, it puts all alcohol into a different light in my mind. It’s far different than trying to sip a cocktail during a loud dinner talking about homework and work and trying to do that with an air of class and dignity.
For transparency’s sake, I’ll share that a couple of times I’ve gone over the 1 drink a week and had 2. I’ve thought about it in the spirit of fast commitment and legalism and decided that when that happened that I just accept it for what it is and remember that the point of this exercise is to distance myself from dependence on things, rituals, and mindsets that come in between me and God. Both a drink every single night AND militant/legalistic thinking fall into that category, so the approach and mindset is holistic. In fact, despite having a drink last night with my friends while we awaited election results, my husband and I are planning to have one tonight as a date night while we play a game of chess. Other lesson learned: my husband makes way better cocktails than most restaurants so I don’t want last night’s to “count” because it was smaller, over priced, and not as good. JThat experience is an important piece of evidence toward the idea that focusing on the quality of the experience is more important than having it for posterity’s sake.
I continue to miss it and not miss it. On Monday, 4/8, I did type up a post in Word and paste it into a Facebook status to encourage my fellow South Hadley residents to vote in the following day’s election and to offer my reasons for why they should for my friend Allyson for Selectboard. This was an important use of social media for me because democracy is important to me, and I didn’t hang out on Facebook afterward and, two days later, don’t know if anyone even commented on the thread. (Note: Allyson did not win, and all her supporters are so sad about it, but this is part of democracy and we continue to encourage folks in our town and other towns to get to know how their towns are run and become a part of moving their communities forward).
I don’t miss most of the groups I’m a part of, and plan to leave a hefty number of them when I return. However, there are some I find I miss deeply and want to become more active in, including our own finance group “Common Cents.”
During this time away from social media, I’ve listened to a number of podcasts and reconnected with a lot of blogs I’d either forgotten about or haven’t visited in a while, and the process has rekindled in me interests and passions that had gotten drowned out in the sea of social media attention-hogging. My favorite uses of social media used to be and will continue to be: women in Christianity, and the Financial Independence community. Female-authored blogs about Bible studies, Christian living, and raising Godly families not only serves my heart, mind, and soul, but my degree pursuit (Master of Divinity (M.Div.), concentration in Biblical Studies). The Financial Independence community gave my husband and I the tips and courage needed to begin cleaning up our financial messes and purchase our home. I’ve found that as I’ve let my connection with these outlets slide, my motivation and determination in these areas has slid as well. These are two areas that really serve me, and one of the best uses of social media, and the Internet as a whole, for me.
So, what happens after Easter?
I don’t know, honestly. I know that I’ll install Instagram probably on the Monday following Easter, and I’ll enjoy cleaning up who I follow to help curate the Christian Woman and Financial Independence feed that I want to have. Facebook will stay off my phone, and I think I’ll be taking an extended break from it. Not indefinite, but I still don’t really know what my boundaries should/would be with that and it’s such a slippery slope that, frankly, I don’t yet feel ready to disengage a week and a half away from the conclusion of Lent. Sure, that could change tomorrow, but for now, I’m happy to still take some time to wisely consider how Facebook can serve its best purpose in my life.
And, frankly, I feel like I’m too busy right now for it. As strange as that might sound, I’ve just been focusing on school, prayer, my goals, and my family (not in any particular order). I highlyrecommend that you look up the “Afford Anything” podcast and search for her February 4th interview with Dr. Cal Newport titled “Digital Minimalism.” It felt like a sermon, honestly, and left me deeply thoughtful and has contributed to my massive gun-shyness about returning to Facebook. I’ve never used Instagram in the same ways I use Facebook (they’re not designed to be used identically), but I do know I’ll have to consider some day/time limits on Instagram before diving back in. I miss everyone’s Instastories J
That’s all for now, friends, but there’s so much more to come…
…Like how it took me FIVE FULL WEEKS of Lent to realize how empty I felt. It took me FIVE FULL WEEKS to feel my spirit let go of the mini idols in my life before I could even BEGIN to understand the depths to which they reached, and FIVE FULL WEEKS before I could consider how to pour God back into those spaces.
I’ve always taken the scenic route…