Yesterday my daughter and I went for a drive because it was a beautiful autumn day. The sky was bright blue and there was not a cloud in sight. So we drove to see my husband at work. He works about 25 minutes from our home. When I got there my husband said that he already had noticed a change in my focus and attitude in the time that I have been away from Facebook. He thanked me for finally walking away.
He is right. I don’t think in Facebook terms anymore. Instead I am more in the moment, I think clearer, I am less anxious, and my attention is more towards my husband and daughter. I know that the world is a mess, but I am not spending hours staring at the train wreck on FB. I have been more intentional about my prayers. Let me tell you, I don’t know what I would do without the Dominican prayer obligations anymore. They keep me alert to when, how, and where I should be praying.
Facebook has taken the focus away from sharing my life with people in a virtual world, to fully living right where God has put me. I have everything that I have ever wanted: a husband and a beautiful daughter. Why should I be so focused elsewhere that they suffer? Why should my daughter see me glued to a computer or cell phone screen, rather than snuggling with her on the couch, or taking her for wagon rides around the neighborhood? Why should I get sucked into a dizzying feed of bad news, when I could be outside in the sunshine? Life flies by, as the Psalmist says ‘We are like grass that grows up in the morning and withers in the evening’.
My decision to give up my personal Facebook account comes down to how I want to live my life. I have a Facebook account to post my writing to only. It is Holiness in Motherhood. I am not even sure I will keep it. We’ll see. I can bury my nose in other people’s business, or I can live my days as I promised devoted to my husband and our family. Everyone needs to keep in touch with loved ones and we need outlets, but the question I finally had to ask myself is whether I was letting technology control me. The answer was not good. I had allowed a tool to take over my life.
When I was working as an intern in Washington DC, I noticed just how much people are glued to their smartphones. It was to the point where many people could not bring themselves to shut them off at church. If I saw someone do this in Mass, I would not be able to keep my mouth shut. I would have to remind them that we are in the Real Presence of Christ, their email can wait. There are emergency personnel who may need their phones, but the vast majority of people should be leaving them in the car for Mass or family time.
Ask yourself something: How many times have you sat with your family and every single one of you is either on the computer or a phone? Yeah, that has happened in my home. Let’s all sit together and ignore each other because everyone else is so much more interesting. This is the message that I was sending to my husband, and on occasion, he sent that message to me as he kept his nose buried in email on his iPhone.
Look, I am not against technology. Modern medical technology has kept me (and my daughter once) alive twice now, when in other time periods I would have died. I am a fan of technology. What I am not a fan of is addiction to technology, and when we allow ourselves to be ruled by our phones, computers, tablets, or whatever else may rule our lives, we pulled away from our vocation.
Do an experiment: stay away from the Internet, your phone (other than essential calls), computer, TV, etc. for 24 hours. Spend time with your family. It may be unpopular, but call a technology free 24 hour period, probably on a weekend. Play a board game, go for a hike, eat dinner together, volunteer, go on a day-trip. See what it does for your family and your own outlook. We have to think in terms of our vocation. Does spending copious amounts of time with our faces buried in a computer screen lead us to Christ? If the answer is “no”, then we need to either cut back or cut out those things taking us away from Him and our families.