I recently took a hiatus from the social networking site of Facebook. My hiatus started when I was sitting at my computer and my kids asked me if they could play on their Wii game. It is summer vacation and they have had more time than usual in front of the television, their Nintendo, on-line games and the Wii. My response to their question was, “No more Wii! You all have been sitting in front of that thing for far too long.” All of the sudden, I looked at where I was (in front of my laptop) and began to feel like the most hypocritical parent.
I decided I needed to make a clean break from Facebook which I tend to gravitate to during my free time. I realized that I needed to spend more time with my kids and be a better example of balance in life. I was sharing with a friend about my break from Facebook and she asked the question, “I wonder what God thinks about Facebook?” Sometimes, I am hesitant to throw my spiritual perspective into everyday things because Christians tend to over-spiritualize and legalism gets thrown into the mix. However, I think I can answer her question in a balanced way without the risk of over-spiritualizing.
There is a lot of good about Facebook that I have enjoyed like getting in touch with friends and family members and even finding my favorite elementary school teacher (how cool is that). There is some bad, such as saying things I shouldn’t have said or reading things I wish I hadn’t. Then there is the ugly side that consists of nasty opinionated debates, bad behavior and the undeniable narcissistic side of social networking. However, that wasn’t why I took a rest from Facebook. In retrospect, Facebook is a slice of life (virtual life but it is reality now). I have to face the good, the bad and the ugly of people and relationships and myself. If I can’t do it on FB, I probably won’t be able to do it in real life either.
My break was because Facebook was becoming an object of imbalance in my life. It was affecting my time, my family and my spiritual life. Everyone has a “Facebook” in their life whether you are logged in or not to a social networking site. For some it might be exercise, your job, an on-line game, a hobby, a ministry, etc… You know when it is affecting the balance in your life because it takes up too much of your time, you may feel a sense of guilt over it and you start to neglect the most important people in your life. In my case, it was my children. Sometimes it even starts to affect your health because you are constantly trying to overcompensate for the imbalance.
So I had to answer my friend’s question, “How does God view Facebook (for me)?” I think He looks on it as one more thing that distracts me in life from what is real and important. God wants me to enjoy the things I like to do. However, he does want me to balance my life in a way that it doesn’t take time from Him and the people he put in my life. I don’t think God is in the business of requiring us to banish and boycott things in this life that we enjoy (unless they cause us to sin). He wants us to prioritize and keep life in the balance. I know that for me, as a parent, it is so important to teach my children how to balance this world of technology. My hiatus was a reminder that I have to keep my life in check and that maybe social networking can have a very negative, addicting and self–seeking consequence in my life.
The lesson in my hypocrisy has been to practice what I preach, strive to be a healthy example of a balanced life for my children and don’t let any “thing” overshadow the most important people in my life. My hiatus is over and I am going to try to balance this whole social networking thing but first I need to get off my blog here before it too becomes my next life lesson of imbalance.