A few weeks ago my husband and I attended the marriage retreat hosted by the young adult ministry here at Beautiful Savior. It was an awesome event, and I would highly recommend getting involved and attending the next time one is hosted. There were a few topics touched on that really spoke to me, but something that really stood out to me was the issue of technology that seems to invade our every waking second.
I was in college when Facebook first came out, and you had to be in college in order to sign-up for an account. You had to request to become a member using a school-issued e-mail address. The creators really had this vision of it connecting members on campus who might be in the same program or taking the same class to connect with one another. Very quickly it evolved into something completely out of control, and something that for some of us seems to dictate our schedules and invades our lives.
I have to admit, I’m a Facebook junkie. I waste numerous hours on the application scrolling through my newsfeed, looking at pictures of friends’ kiddos and weddings, and posting on a group page of primarily Lutheran moms with questions about having little ones at home. It was the first thing I would check in the morning, the last thing before bed, and many times while sitting at stop-lights or while waiting for appointments at the doctor’s office. But little did I know what effect this was having on my little ones and my husband at home.
My husband mentioned to me one night that I spent more time on my phone, than I did spending time with him once our kids were in bed, and I was very offended. I tried to explain to him why my time spent on Facebook was so important to me. I needed to unwind and needed to post my feeling on my day or my latest pictures of the kids to keep up with all the posting my mommy friends who stay at home with their kiddos. But as I took a deeper look I quickly realized that I was neglecting my own family just to keep abreast with the nearly 1000 friends I had on Facebook.
But as I really began to look at my Facebook using habits and take inventory of all the time I was wasting, mindless scrolling through the countless status updates and photos posted and political messages shared, I realized that my husband was right. I was spending more time connecting online than with those who lived under the same roof as myself. It was easier for me to mindlessly post the latest update on what new skill my daughter had learned, than to sit with my husband and re-hash how my day went at work and what I may have been struggling with either emotionally, relationally, or spiritually.
Maybe you can relate? I know there are some of you who will read this blog, that will do a gut check of the time you spend online as well. Sometimes it’s easy to be more concerned with what is happening online, than with those relationships of people who live under your own roof. And maybe it’s not Facebook. Maybe you spend time playing video games, or looking at websites such as Buzzfeed or Reddit, or maybe it’s playing Angry Birds on the iPad. Whatever it may be, our society has grown accustomed to spending too much time plugged into technology and not enough time connecting via face to face. There is something about connecting with the online world that allows us to hide behind our vulnerabilities and share the struggles that we face and connect with those who may be most willing or who want to help us through those struggles.
I know for myself personally, I have this desire to be the center of attention constantly and I want people to notice me and tell me they notice me. Maybe it’s a result of growing up in a house with 3 younger siblings. Maybe it’s from the lack of attention and the damage done by boyfriends and other relationships that left me feeling broken and unwanted. Online was a place for me to be noticed and a place for me to really showcase myself and have others take notice. Once I post a status update or a photo, I have to check Facebook about an hour afterwards to see what comments “friends” have posted.
In the grand scheme of things those, I didn’t realize how much my desire to be noticed and wanted by the online community of Facebook was damaging my family and most importantly my marriage. So I have decided to do a gut-check and really evaluate from time-to-time the amount of time I am spending on Facebook. I have setup boundaries for myself for not only time I am spending on Facebook, but also what I am posting or sharing on Facebook as well. And if I feel like spending larger amounts of time scrolling through my newsfeed, then maybe I need to force myself to spend some time with my husband, even if I’m just sitting on the couch next to him watching a sporting event or movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it can be a great way for us to share what is happening in our lives or maybe what God has been teaching you, but I think for many of us it is causing more harm than good.
So, I have committed to limiting the time I am spending on Facebook. So if it takes me several days to like a post, or reply to a message, there’s why!