As 2011 drew to a close, I blogged about a strange ritual I had practiced before the start of the new year, for two years running.
Kurt Willems was kind enough to repost it on his illustrious blog, garnering lots of responses (far more than I would have attracted here) and some interesting pushback.
For the most part, my reasoning was sound and my heart was right in putting out the challenge to completely delete one’s Facebook profile at the start of each new year as a spiritual discipline. And, it made a good deal of sense given the circumstances of my life the last couple of years. In other words, there were no significant downsides in deleting, only upsides (which I pointed out in the post).
And so, I stand by The Reboot. I believe in it, still. Completely rebooting one’s Facebook identity (alongside a social media fast) is a worthy spiritual discipline – an intentional, mindful way to address some of the personal and relational negatives that may arise with the growing impact social media has on all our lives.
I’m not rebooting this year.
Before gettin’ all hot and bothered and accusing me of all manner of hypocrisy, scroll back up and read that recent (you guessed it) Facebook status at the top of this post. It represents a development in my thinking on this subject. Namely, the positives of social media, i.e., the relational benefits to connecting online, have become more apparent and more important to me over the course of the last year, since the last reboot. And it’s summed up well in that status: even online, I mean more to people than I once realized. And, even online, people mean more to me than they ever have.
There’s another reason why I’m not rebooting. My life situation has changed since last year, as I am now doing online media marketing and management for a living as &Considered Media. This means that my Facebook timeline has become an integral part of my work, and that has changed my posture toward social media in general. I find myself using it less as a way to express my personal identity and more as a way to connect with and hopefully help more and more people in the ways I’m gifted to do so.
All that said, again, I’m still aware of the negative effects social media can have on one’s life, which I enumerated in last year’s post as “ill communication” and “distraction.” And, prayerfully, I hope to be even more vigilant with regard to these things in 2013. As a “for instance,” I’ve become much more comfortable breaking social media ties with those who may use it in negative ways, who stir up unhealthy emotions or drama – it is always much better to seek truth and reconciliation in a conflict situation outside the artificial proximities (the “intimate anonymity”) of online media. And, I’m consistently looking for ways to take “breaks” from technology, in order to be more present with God, family, and friends.
But, overall, I am finding Facebook to be more of a blessing than a curse right now. Really, a very powerful blessing. The relationships there mean more to me than ever, and I think I mean a lot to my Facebook friends, too.
So, to those who pushed back to the post last year along these lines, thanks. Perhaps your critique in favor of keeping online relationships intact, even if they are secondary to in-person relationships, helped me clarify my decision for 2013. Regardless, whether rebooting or not, make the new year one in which you seek to treasure relationships more than ever.
Even the ones on Facebook.