I gave up Facebook for Lent. I’ve done this for a few years now — I wonder what sort of dip in site usage Facebook sees over these forty days. I wonder if whoever is in charge of retention at Facebook finds it worrisome that some users consider it as a vice on par with smoking or fatty foods. Or maybe they are pleased at the idea of Facebook being an uncontrollable urge which, naturally, will be returned to after the forty days.
I enjoy Facebook. I like sharing and interacting and having access to friends and family across the world. But when I think about my values, about the type of relationships I would like to cultivate, the type of interests I want to pursue — Facebook is at best a neutral addition to my life. At worst, it is a distraction from all of these areas. I think Matt Steele discusses its potential for inauthenticity pretty well — “I can carefully curate my life to look like a shimmering stream of Hallmark moments.”
So I gave it up for forty days. Because it was a distraction to school, to work, and to real life. Because I have more meaningful ways to spend my time. And on a similar/unrelated note (can we create a word for that?), I’m leaving some thoughts from Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes:
“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”
And, if you have time, check out JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech: