12 February 2013

Lent and the social media experiment.

Hello faithful readers of six!

Lent has always been something I have struggled with when I started my journey to become a Catholic in 2008.  For a number of reasons, the idea of giving something up to be closer to God has never really...well...resonated with me. 

One reason, as I blogged about in 2010, I have to a certain extent felt like every year was Lent; my whole life the last few years has felt like sacrifice. Between lay offs, poverty (in money and spirit), unfulfilled dreams, or major illness, I have always felt like I have had to make sacrifices. Things improved a lot more when I did become a Catholic, and when I did meet (and eventually marry) my husband. But the feelings of resentment about Lent lingers. Why do I have to give up the few good vices I have just to be closer to God?

My other major complaint was that I never really understood how giving up coffee or sweets made me closer to God. Other than a few extra pounds on my belly, it's not like having a morning java or a piece of chocolate changes my connection to Him, or other people, in any major way. 

This year though, I realised that I've been doing Lent wrong. Three things led me to this conclusion:
  1. I wasn't being honest with what is disconnecting me from God or others
  2. I wasn't giving up anything meaningful, nor was I replacing the sacrifice with an action to lead me closer to God
  3. I wasn't recognizing the opportunity to learn, grow, and be a better, authentic, Catholic by breaking out of my comfort-level

 Lent in many ways is like how some people approach confession - confess/give up the minor stuff...but let's just shush now about the major things shall we...after all, we wouldn't want the priest/world to know just how sinful/selfish we are.

If we are not entirely honest with ourselves and our failings,
then how can we live an authentic life made for greatness?

To prepare for Lent this year, I took a look at my life and examined what what good, and what was not good, and what had yet to be achieved.

The recurring theme was that I am way too connected to social media, but I am not connecting in a meaningful way. My addiction to social media, made worse by my IPhone purchase, has impacted my life in many negative ways:
  1. It takes away important time from my husband, my friends, and my family
  2. It is so time-consuming that my gym and outdoor activity time has decreased, dramatically, which impacts my efforts to lose weight, which in turns impacts my goals (baby, fitness, clothing etc...)
  3. I have no idea what is going on in my friends life unless I read about it on Facebook. That's not good.
  4. It cuts into my other enjoyable hobbies (such as reading a book)
  5. There is too much negativity that just riles me up (especially about my faith). In turn, it's made me snarky too
  6. I am not sure if my connections are meaningful (especially on Twitter). With some, I feel like I always have to engage in battle to defend a view, but most of the time, the other person isn't interested in hearing your view as much as promoting their own bullsh*t
  7. I have dramatically changed my views on some issues (for the better or worse), but I haven't had a chance to really reflect on those changes and what that means
  8. My hatred of people has grown - there is way too much stupid
  9. My own engagement is quantity-filled, not quality-filled
  10. I am missing balance in my life
The most telling reason though?

Social media has become a bigger priority then it is worth. Jennifer at Conversion Diary, after reflecting on her own computer fast, posted this reflection:

Your priorities are the things you plan for. This was actually what sparked it all. My husband made this comment week before last, noting that you can tell what people’s actual priorities are by looking at what they plan for. I looked at my life to see that I had intricate plans for when I was going to spend time on my computer, but was always winging it when it came to the more boring/humble tasks related to my primary vocation.
That my friends is truth. I wake up and the first thing I do, before I even eat breakfast, is reach for my IPad and check out Twitter and Facebook. I think about what things I will post, and who I will read,and what I will blog about before I think of any other aspect of my day.

Most importantly, I don't connect to God when I worship Facebook and Twitter above Him.

I truly hope that this becomes a lasting change and that somehow, someway, I can find that happy medium. I might check-in on Sundays (the one allowable day) just to see how everyone is doing. But then again, I might not. I will spend this time to reflect, pray, be, and build meaningful connections.
I will continue to blog.

Note: Yesterday, Pope Benedict announced his retirement. This is the only Pope that I have ever known as a Catholic (I was baptized under his papacy). I will pray for him and his health. Thank you Papa for all that you have done to guide me under your wisdom. You are a brilliant, wise, humble man. You were good for the Church and your teachings will always be valued.



Tracy Anderson-Powell said...

I'm not a Catholic so my knowledge of Lent is theoretical, but I admire your dedication all the same! Be strong! Carry the wisdom of this post, of this self-awareness, with you always.

All the best in this journey and I hope that you find what you're looking for.

Joanna said...

Terrific post -- and what a wonderful idea to disconnect yourself from social media for 40 days.

It's true what they say... that acknowledging you have a "problem" is a tremendous step on the path to change.

Good luck with this.... I hope your life becomes enriched because of it.

Dani said...

Thank you Tracy! I miss you already. #firstdayjitters

And yes, this will be a good thing. In fact, I have already learned two lessons today!