Each night at kiddo bedtime, hubs has been reading chapters from The Little House series, written by Laura Ingalls. It fills me with nostalgia from reading those books when I was a child, but more than that, I’m struck by how incredible their lives were. They kept things simple as a sake of survival, but “simple” for them seems like so much work to me. Yet today, a lot of what we have to make our lives “simpler” seems to be making it more difficult to function as a compassionate being.
I’ve been struggling for months with the maze of social media. I’m required to be in it for work, but tend to easily get trapped in a time suck and before I know it, I’ve spent hours scrolling through funny memes, frivolous news stories, and conversations among complete strangers. I can’t seem to pull away from it.
It wasn’t all that long ago, I fessed up about my struggle with being stuck in technology when I wrote about needing a time out. It turns out a technological time out isn’t easy to come by.
It’s a fantastic and frightening world, social media. Linking us to our past, connecting us to a future we hope to have, and friending our current acquaintances in the meantime. Once upon a time, I used to call someone or send them an email to see what they were up to, or how they were doing. Now, I just browse their profile. I don’t interact at all. I simply observe. And I call myself their friend. If they need me, I’ll be there to click “like” or maybe even “love” if it’s really special. If I remember to click something, that is.
Is this troubling to anyone else?
I remember a time we heard from friends once a year, and knew they were just as much my friends as they always had been. I was updated on their lives, complete with pictures, and even got a warm fuzzy feeling opening that annual correspondence: The Christmas Letter. Social media has replaced the need for the Christmas letter. Instead of decorating my door with Christmas mail, I’m checking my computer for likes and comments.
My phone rings or buzzes and I cringe. “Who’s that?” “What do they want?” When the postman buzzes our door, I’m completely bewildered. Someone sent something too big for our mailbox? Oh no, wait, we ordered something. Without talking to a single person. I just clicked it to ship it.
I’m not just in need of a techno time out. I need a complete humanitarian reset.
Recently, our family attended my husband’s class reunion, where I was surprised by how many of his classmates were not on Facebook. Not on Facebook! What kind of mysterious lives do these people live?!
I also noticed how genuinely relational they were, how connected they were, and how no one was spending their time taking selfies or interrupting their talking to tweet something clever. They were having face-to-face conversations with one another, giving undivided attention. I marveled as I witnessed it.
I’m almost ashamed to admit it for it seems so shallow, but I was completely inspired by this.
Brent’s classmates themselves were fantastic, and I enjoyed visiting with them so much. Some of them I remembered from his reunion ten years prior, others I met for the first time. It was so much fun to see Brent in his hometown with his friends, picking right up where they left off. I visited right along with him and laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. And I didn’t take my phone out but one time.
Spending hours with these folks when not a single person was taking their phone out to post or catch up on other posts was a motivational boost for me.
Could I do the same?
Remember the book #Struggles I read? (And highly recommend, by the way). It talks about this phenomenon of living in a selfie-centered world. And that, in combination with the realization I was spending too much time on too many devices, convinced me I needed to break free.
I need to be unplugged. I need to disconnect from this world I’ve become so engrossed in so I can truly connect in the world I was created to live in.
So…at least for now, we’ll be The Little Apartment On The Prairie. I won’t let social media be my master. I’m going to have a routine of doing what housework on which days. I’m going to cook all our meals, bake our own bread, and smoke meat for the winter. (Okay, maybe not smoke meat….that might get us kicked out.) We’re going to focus on each other and fostering relationships. We’re going to master the art of face-to-face communication. No more sitting on my sofa asking my husband if he saw the funny picture so-and-so posted.
I’m going back to simpler times. Basic communication. I’m going to stop letting FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) dictate my time and energy. It’s that same fear that has actually caused me to miss out on what’s right in front of me!
So, friends, I may not remember your birthday when I don’t get an email from Facebook telling me it’s your special day. But I’d love to get together with you in person and laugh so hard our cheeks hurt. We don’t even have to take a picture to prove we did it. We can just let the memory of the moment nestle itself away in folds of our hearts. And if we live far apart, I hope I get that Christmas letter this year. Email me your mailing address so I can be sure to fill your mailbox up as well. That’s right, USPS, I’m coming to buy stamps!
In the meantime, come and check in with me in our Little Apartment On The Prairie as I blog about what we’re up to. This little corner of the internet is my coffee table, with one chair always available to you.