05 March 2014

Before You Fast from Social Media: The Seven Devil Problem

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Beginning in January and continuing throughout the year, I’m participating in the One Page a Day writing challenge. Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014.  I may need therapy by December.  Oh wait…

veryone vilifies social media these days.
Quite a few of my friends are even fasting from it for Lent.   

As I mentioned yesterday, I had also considered giving it up for a month.

We all saw how well that idea went.

You would think that my experience of a bad case of withdrawal would have sealed the deal for me.  I’m a distraction addict, so naturally, I should give it up, kick the habit.

But not all addictions are created equal. 

Take someone who is addicted to food.  Should they just stop eating?  No, of course not – that would be ridiculous.  It isn’t food that’s the problem ~ it’s their attitude towards and use of it.

So it is with social media ~ the problem isn’t social media per se.  It’s our attitude towards and our use of it.

The Seven Devil Problem
De-cluttering, detoxing, fasting ~ all these are good things and all the major religions and philosophies teach some form of it.  And most of us could benefit from some type of detoxing or fasting regime.  But in our zeal to sweep out the old, bad habits, we forget something very important:

When you get rid of something, you now have an empty space.  And empty spaces tend to get filled.

I can’t speak for any other teachings, but in Christianity, this very thing is warned against:

"When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Matt. 12:43-45)

We take out the bad, but what do we put back in its place?

Fasting, detoxing, de-cluttering, and giving up something is all well and good, but it’s only going up the mountain.  You can’t just stop there.  At some point you will have to come back down.  Not planning for your descent is like saying you’ll wait for an avalanche to bring you back down. 

That is insane.

So is fasting without planning to put something positive in the empty space. 

When Social Media is Good, It’s Very, Very Good
So, you’ve told us that you are disappearing from the web for the next 40 days. 

Great.  Before you go, tell us what you are doing instead.  Are you spending that time with family?  (And screaming at family doesn’t count.)

Are you a writer who’s doing the disappearing act?   What are you going to write while you’re “away”?  Are you an artist?  What are you creating in the next 40 days?

Tell us ~ we want to be inspired too.

And therein lies the positive side of social media.

When many of us think of social media, we think of over-sharing.  This meme sums it up nicely:
Image credi: Core77

But social media is just a tool.

This shovel I have?  I can use it to dig out a new garden in the spring, or I can use it to kill my annoying neighbor. (Not really, my real life neighbor is quite nice.)   

The tool itself is neutral.  It all depends on how we decide to use it.

If you are posting those annoying pictures of cats, etc., maybe you do need to give up Facebook and use that time to become involved in a hobby.  Or volunteer at a shelter.

If you are clicking on those annoying political posts and sharing them, then you need to get off Facebook for a good while too and do something fun with real people.

You can fast from clicking and sharing the inane, and instead click and share the extraordinary. 

Or the beautiful.

Or the positive.

The point is, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Gmail, etc., are all tools that can be used to encourage, to make initial connections, and to set up face to face meetings.  If you aren’t making meaningful connections outside of your social media clicks, then the problem isn’t social media.  You just need to take the next, face to face step.

It could be the start of a beautiful, supportive real friendship.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you giving up FB or other social media for Lent?  What are you filling that empty time slot with?

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