Social media fast: Update #2

Five years ago, a colleague explained that a week earlier she and her family were hiking in the Rocky Mountains;when they reached the top of the mountain, the first thing she did wasn't to take in the beauty of God's creation. Instead, she admitted to pulling out her phone and writing a Facebook status about the hike while her husband and daughters gazed at the scenery from the top of the trail without her. This was a defining moment for my colleague, and since then, she hasn't had a social media presence. It's a conversation that has stuck with me for five years.

With Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I've documented many moments through pictures and brief bits of narrative, but I can't help but wonder how much I've actually missed in an attempt to document each moment. How many sunsets have I viewed through the lens of a crappy camera phone? How much time have I lost with my kids because I've been busy posting about them on Facebook? Social media has encouraged us to document lots but miss out on even more.

In these last 22 days, I've found myself feeling oddly confused about what to "do" with moments. For example, I snapped a cute picture of my kids on the first day of school that I normally would have posted on social media (along with the 1,482 other first day of school photos from parents on my news feed). After I took the picture, I stood awkwardly on the sidewalk wondering what in the hell I should do with the picture. I opted to send the pic to a few people the old school way (text messaging...gasp!), and then I just stared at the photo long after my kids had gone into school. I don't usually overwhelm the Facebook world with a constant stream of information about my kids, but it still felt weird keeping this moment that would usually be public, mostly private. Keeping this moment mostly to myself, though, felt intimate and satisfying because it was a moment that only I was present for, a moment filled with nuances that only I (and four other people) knew of. There's something we miss out on, I think, when we post about what normally would be the intimate details of our lives on any social media platform.

Nate and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary at the end of July with a trip to a small bookish town in southeastern Nebraska. While I took a few pictures from our time, I opted not to post them before my social media fast. In the moment I didn't post them because I felt like our trip wasn't grandiose enough.We didn't go overseas or stay in a plush hotel. We ate at zero fancy restaurants. We visited a tiny town and stayed in a cottage in the woods with no internet. We cooked our own meals. We read books, took naps, and watched cable TV. We went on walks and visited tiny storefronts. The trip was relaxing and enjoyable, but in the moment, I didn't feel like it was "share-worthy." WTF is that?!? Social media had such a grip on my life that it caused me to envy the lives of others and devalue my own experiences. Ultimately, I'm glad I didn't post about our trip because I'm holding onto those memories just for me. I don't want to share them with anyone else.

Throughout this fast, I want to learn to be satisfied with being present for each moment instead of feeling pulled to share each moment. I want to learn to value my own experiences and not compare them with someone else's. When I return to social media in September, I'm hoping to be a more deliberate user. And if I'm not, you have my permission to kick me in the shins and scream in my face. 

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