I remember creating my Facebook account. It was 2005 and I was in my last semester of college at NCSU. (I totally remember feeling like I was cheating on my My Space page when I joined. Didn’t we all?)
When it first came out, Facebook wouldn’t even let you create an account unless you had a college email address. It was different. Somewhat exclusive. And everyone was doing it.
Jumping on the wagon back then in my life never seemed like a hard thing to do. So this was just one more thing to jump into.
It’s crazy to think that was 14 years ago.
It’s crazy to think how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months of my life have been spent on Facebook.
Most of the time, I would post without scrolling. I was never much of a comment troll, and especially over the last two years, I would only post encouraging words and pics of my kids.
Much like many of us, during times of political change or when the media was trying to distract us with more bad news, my heart would literally break at all of the meanness, judgement, debating and downright ugly behavior from many of my “friends”.
I had over 1,500 of them. How did that happen? I’d often tell myself I was going to purge the list but never made the time.
I’d often hide the feeds of people on my friends list. People who complained too much, posted vulgarities and were unkind to others weren’t hard for me to remove from my feed. My heart couldn’t take it.
But the most painful part of Facebook for me, that led to my decision to leave, was the comparison trap. Almost without fail, each time I’d open the app, the first post I would see was another mama, sharing a moment with her kids. Or sharing a story about her life. While I’d often smile as I celebrated with them, I’d often end up thinking she was a better mom than me, or that her life seemed more put together than mine. I’d find myself judging them for only putting their best face on social media and wondered if what we were seeing was a true depiction of their life. I think this was easy to do because I know in my own life, it was always easier to post something good like a trip to the science center, rather than being vulnerable enough to share about the spanking I just gave my kid.
On the morning I made the decision to cut the proverbial cord with my 14-year friend Facebook, I was sitting in my car outside of my office. I’d been on a social media sabbatical for almost 30 days and had shared a new blog post the night before. I made the quick decision to log into FB to read any comments that had been posted (ridiculous, I know. But keep reading, God dealt with me in that area).
I opened my account and there it was. A post from a good friend sharing an experience she’d had with her daughter. As I read the post, I immediately became envious. Criticizing. Judgmental. It was as if I was having an out-of-body experience as I became aware of how I was feeling, and how quickly it happened. I threw down my phone and began to pray. Within seconds, I sensed the Holy Spirit show me exactly what I needed to do. “You’d better go ahead and delete Facebook, you don’t need that in your life.”
I didn’t want to judge my friends. I didn’t want to be envious of their lives. I didn’t want to sell myself short as a human and a mother and an employee and a wife and a friend by comparing someone else’s life to my own.
I didn’t want to take the chance anymore of seeing someone else’s “best” when I was at my potential worst.
And further, God showed me how ridiculous it was to desire validation and an adrenaline rush through comments and reactions on social media. Your validation in this world doesn’t come from these people, Candice. It comes from ME.
Vulnerability is sort of my thing. I’ve never been one to wear a mask and inauthentic people in my life are a challenge to be around and an even bigger challenge to love well.
I hope you’ve never looked at my life through your phone screen and felt this way. I’m far from perfect. I can be difficult to love, too.
I hope you don’t spend your time making assumptions about people’s lives based on what they post to social media. There is always more to the story, and being able to connect with people in “real life” is far more gratifying. Making the choice to remove that possibility from my own life has been incredibly freeing.
While I do believe it can serve a purpose in some ways, social media has changed the way we enter relationships. It’s made us divisive, combative, entitled and righteous. It’s made it easy to put a fake foot forward and I wholeheartedly believe it’s contributing to the rising depression and anxiety in our culture.
Look around the next time you go out to a restaurant at how many heads are pointed downward looking at a phone screen. Notice how many families miss opportunities for real conversation at the sacrifice of scrolling. Listen to people around you as they boldly declare how well they know someone who or something because they “saw it on Facebook”.
When I told my husband about my decision, he was encouraging. He didn’t for one second discourage me. “Good for you, babe. I hope you start a revolution.”
Me too. I hope someone shares this post. I hope someone reads it and it quenches the curiosity and desire they’ve felt and they decide to cut the cord, too.
Life is short. It’s precious. It’s nearly but a vapor.
Don’t let your worth come from likes and comments. You’re worth so more than that. Trust me.