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Social Media #SoulSucker

“Nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world.”  
Wise lyrics from singer/songwriter Amos Lee’s song Soul Suckers.

We live in a society that is desperate for approval. For attention.  For someone to accept us and tell us we are good, worthy, beautiful. Someone to LIKE us. Someone to COMMENT on us. Someone to MESSAGE us.

Enter social media. Enter Facebook, where, generally, everyone’s lives seem rosy, beautiful, perfect, content. Happy babies. Nice house. Solid job. Emotionally stable. Everyone wants to portray the good because that’s what people want to hear or see.  That’s what gets the most Likes, right?

“Nobody wants honesty when looking through a perfect frame. Play the game”
Amos Lee-Soul Suckers

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend perusing your cell phone, specifically social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? I shudder to think how much time I spend doing this. Now that I’m a mom I’m all too aware of the amount of  time I’m wasting checking my newsfeed, or the latest Likes or Messages I’ve received.  I’m aware, but I still do nothing about it.  The idea of having such simple communication with practically everyone we know at our fingertips is just too enticing an idea.  A quick 1 minute of our time can catch us up on what’s going on with a friend half way around the world, or allow us to see photos of a baby born 10 minutes ago.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. The power of technology. The immediacy of information available to us.
This information isn’t a bad thing. It’s not unfair that it’s out there, floating around in cyberspace.  We just need to be mindful of how we’re using it and how often.  Our lives need us. Facebook does not.
It’s unfair to blame technology for the dependency that we have on it.  It’s like blaming the coffee pot for making too hot of coffee. (McDonald’s excluded.) Or blaming the scissors when you cut your finger while clipping coupons (ahem).  Or blaming…okay, well, I won’t go off on a political tangent with THAT one.  But if you know me then you know what I was going to say.
Anyway.
We make our own conscious decisions. An article dated last year from Biz Journal says the average Facebook user checks their account about 14 times a day, spending an average of half an hour a day on FB. (http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/blog/morning_call/2013/03/how-much-time-do-you-really-spend-on.html)
In half an hour we can read books to our kids. Make a phone call to a friend or family member. Write a note, because that’s more personable anyway, write a to-do list, scratch off things from that to-do list, prep dinner rather than order take-out, do a load of laundry, read the bible, or pray.  We’re always complaining we never have enough time.  Thirty minutes a day is a precious amount of time!

It’s maddening, and even depressing, to realize how dependent our society has become on social media. Myself not excluded from this. I don’t seek to blame anyone without pointing the finger at myself as well.
 Selfies are not a new phenomenon.  We’ve been taking selfless for years, with disposable cameras and polaroids.  The word “selfie” itself is a selfish noun referred to one who exclusively takes a photo to upload it to social media.  Urban Dictionary says:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

Why do people upload to social media? Because we beg for attention and approval of others for these self images.  The number of Likes or Comments seems to be behind an idea of self worth, value, and beauty.  Everything we do on social media is an act of self promotion.  Just as you would market a product, we are living in an age of marketing ourselves, and yes, even our children.  I’m just as guilty.  Just like every other mom, I think my kid is the cutest and I want to plaster his pic all over the place because I’m so proud of him.  Have we really become this society that promotes our children just to get strangers, or even friends we haven’t seen in 10 years to like a photo of our child who they’ll likely never meet? How many of these photos that we post do we actually get printed and framed? One day Facebook will be just a speck in the sand, and when the phenomenon of it (and another billion dollar soul sucker makes it ’round) fades away, when our iPhone dies and we curse it because we forgot to download the pics to our computer, and when our computer crashes before we could get the photos off it, we won’t have those Likes to view anymore.  We won’t have a photo to rub our hands against or being nostalgic to.
Just as Amos Lee sings, “nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world”, yes, it is a wicked world.  And we want approval from it???

With all those status updates of life going on, when were we living? I feel like I’m missing out on so much. It’s my fault.
I speak from experience.  When it seems my son is content playing I find myself scrolling through my Facebook network.  Seeing that tiny world icon highlight a red number in the corner of my screen sends me on a social high.  It’s addicting.  It’s also draining me from living my life. It’s sucking me away from living in the present, like a vacuum, drawing me into a momentary cyber world, neglecting what’s in front of me.

I read a few online articles that stated the average Facebook user spends between 8-12 hours a month on the site.  TWELVE HOURS. That’s more than the average person gets of sleep.  (Though certainly an amount of sleep I only dream of these days after having my son! Ahhh, may be someday…)

Sure, there are positives to all social media.  But when you look around a restaurant and see a family of 4 all with devices in their hand, you wonder why they even bothered to go out to eat at all.
Michael and I have made a rule, however, to try to make a habit of not taking out our cell phones when we’re out to eat, or at the dinner table.

We’ve also made a strict rule that we want to limit Blake’s use of technology.  But we can’t just make this rule and not live by it ourselves.  We have to be the models.

Today I announced my month long hiatus from Facebook, posted with the hashtag #lifesucker. (I used a hashtag on Facebook for this special occasion.  Hashtags on Facebook are normally something I’m mocking.)
I’ve been threatening to do this for quite some time and finally took the plunge thanks to a few other friends who have coincidentally decide to do the same.

Here’s my promise to Facebook friends and myself as I journey into this month long adventure away.
1) I promise to call or text you to see how you’re doing, rather than scrolling through my newsfeed to catch up on you, never liking or commenting on your pics or status updates.
For this next month, I will PERSONALLY be in touch with you.  The old fashioned way. (Ish. I don’t guess texting is old fashioned…)
2) …interruption…don’t you ever wonder why some people have Facebook at all? They never post, never like anything, never comment on anything, you know they have an account, but you wonder if they ever log on…then one day they say “Oh yes. I saw that you posted that” and you feel a little creeped out at their stalkerish behavior.  That hasn’t happened to you? Please, skip to number 3.
3) If you’re one of those people, I’m sorry.  I love you.
4) I promise to TALK to you if I see you in the store, rather than pretend I didn’t see you.  Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.
5) I promise to pray for you.  Pray that you decide to put the phone down once in a while and spend more time watching and engaging in the world around you.
6) I will spend more time in the Word of God.
7) I will read books.
8) I will enjoy more quality time with my family.
9) I will inspire others to try to do the same.

With the ALS challenge being so successful, I imagine we are now going to see an influx of “challenges” circling Facebook that will involve and dare us to contribute to various organizations and causes.  It’s coming. I’m not going to nominate anyone or judge anyone.  But I do challenge you to, not necessarily take a month long hiatus, but to make a PLEDGE to yourself and for your family to simply live.
Just be there.  In the present. Facebook can wait.

Don’t let Facebook be your #soulsucker.

#positivemovement #pledgetolive

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