Facebook Photo Free

chalkboard

Yesterday on my morning run I got to thinking about this past weekend’s activities and realized in horror that I had a FACEBOOK PHOTO FREE WEEKEND!

Once I calmed down my breathing and regained my composure, I started to reflect: Why do I care if we did anything this weekend that was worthy of posting to Facebook? How shallow am I that I was thinking about all of the cool things I saw my friends post from their weekend and didn’t have anything to share? Does every weekend have to be Facebook worthy?

You see, this past weekend revolved around the list above which we wrote on our chalkboard wall in the kitchen – not much exciting stuff there. The kids are going back to school soon so we’re getting in organizing and prep mode which is pretty much what we did this weekend. That isn’t to say that we didn’t have some great family time. We did our back to school shopping together (challenging), went for a drive in the country (fun for me), ate all of our meals together (always entertaining), Jo and I went to the Farmer’s Market in Davidson together (daddy/daughter time), and we got almost everything on our list done with minimal meltdowns (victory!).

So what is my problem? Why the Facebook Photo envy? Why the sense of failure? This morning I had a little longer run planned, so I had some more time to reflect on my Facebook Photo Free weekend. And here is the conclusion I’ve come to…I need to break myself of the prevailing belief that if something doesn’t get posted to Facebook it either didn’t happen or isn’t important. I have slipped into believing that I have to somehow show others all of the great things I’m doing or they aren’t important. While I do see the value in sharing some of the paramount moments of our lives with friends and family that we don’t get to see often enough, I must remember that posting those pictures doesn’t validate the experience. The experience itself and the impact it has on our lives validates the experience.

When our family spends the weekend camping in the mountains, it isn’t the cute pic of my kids hugging by the fire that makes it worthwhile, it is the fact that our 9 year old learned how to build and start a fire that is important. When my wife and I get to go away for the weekend or catch an infrequent date night, it isn’t the picture of us in front of the swanky restaurant looking all nice that makes the evening, it is the quiet in our conversation where we just look at each other and smile that reminds us what 14+ years of love has been like. When we get together with friends or family and enjoy days of great food, fun, and fellowship, it isn’t the posed shot we finally convince the kids to stand still for that makes memories, it is the first backflip off the top of the pontoon that stands out. And when I travel the globe and go for a morning run, it isn’t the selfie in front of some iconic spot that makes me love my job, it is the fact that the run is an important part of doing my job well that matters.

The fact of the matter is that our Facebook Photo Free Weekend was pretty awesome. We got the kids talking about what they would like about living in the country, we experienced the complete opposites that are Jack (2 minutes to pick out school shoes) and Josie (20 minutes to pick out school shoes). We got some great new books at the library and bought some local meat, bread, and veggies at the Farmers Market – both of which gave us interesting conversation over dinner. Jessi and I had a unhurried chat over coffee on the front porch one morning and both participated in some yard work (me begrudgingly). We had pool time and quiet time and family time throughout. It didn’t need a photo to sum it up and just one wouldn’t have captured all of the moments that made it great.

Make no mistake, you’ll continue to see photos of my highlights on Facebook because I’m still vain enough to think that people care about what I do and my mom likes to see pictures of her grandkids. But when you see those pics from now on, keep in mind that they’re just glimpses of life. Theres a whole lot more, good and bad, going on and that is what is really important.

Social Media Lent

Image

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start in the Western Christian Church of the season of Lent. Lent is a 40 day observance by Christians leading up to the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday and the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Like many church traditions, Lent is not a Biblical teaching, but a creation of the early church to remind themselves of final days of Jesus’ ministry and the importance of his final days to the salvation of believers. The tradition calls for believers to deny themselves some common pleasure, vice, or comfort during this time and replace it with prayer, fasting, and remembrance of Christ’s suffering.

Last night, as I sat down to the above fat, juicy, succulent steak on Fat Tuesday and, along with the other diners in the restaurant celebrated a final night of gluttony before this season of denial, I had to take pause.  I realized that if I was going to be serious about experiencing real emotional and spiritual growth during the season of Lent, I should really deny myself something that really mattered to me and would actually cause me to pause every time I thought about it and force me to redirect those thoughts to prayers.

So I’m going to take a Social Media Lent. Shortly after I hit “send” and “post to Facebook” on this blog, I am going to remove the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps from my phone for the next 40 days. I plan to continue to blog, as for me that is a writing outlet, not a social media engagement tool, per se, but for the next 40 days I will abstain from social media. I realized recently that I tend to look at Facebook 6-10 times a day and that time is going to be replaced with prayer for the friends that I typically am watching and engaging with in that forum, an email or phone call to that important group of people I call friends, and making time to connect in person with some of the people I only ‘follow’ through social media.

I’ll be back, because I do genuinely appreciate the connections I receive with people through Facebook. However, my hope and prayer for this Season of Lent for myself is that my concern and caring for the most important people in my life will grow during this time and that I will find greater interpersonal connections than I currently have. A blessed Lenten season to all.

Image

Real Facebook Friends

Image

 

I’ve oft bemoaned the damage that Facebook and other social media tools available today have done to the self esteem and self awareness of our generation. My gripe is that the generation I am a part of (Generation X) already has enough hurdles in front of us…from being the first generation to earn less than our parents, to being the lucky group that were the primary recipients of the genius of the banking industry called the “interest only loan,” to being the victims of the greatest scam in American automotive industry – the new car lease. The last thing we really need is a place to post all of the greatest things in our lives and make each other feel worthless because our lives aren’t even remotely as rich, fun, happy, full, or exciting as all of our ‘friends’ on Facebook.

But there is hope, because here is the reality – for most people, Facebook is ONLY the highlight reel of our lives, and no one who really cares about us only wants to see only the highlight reel, they want to see the full season because that is the only way you really understand what is going on. Like any good highlight reel, many of our Facebook lives leave out the bloopers, the blunders, the stupid mistakes, and the missed opportunities. All of our family bickering, money problems, marital stress, gossiping about friends, complaining about work, and generally mundane and unhealthy parts of our lives end up on the cutting room floor. This begs the question: Are the lives we live on social media our real lives, are our friends there our real friends, and is it mentally and emotionally healthy to be friends with people whom we are only wiling to share our highlight reels with each day?

So, what to do? I love Facebook! It allows me to stay connected and updated on the lives of people I truly care about but don’t get the opportunity to see or talk to as much as I’d like (the guys above, for instance). But I want to have REAL Facebook friends. Here’s what I’ve decided to do about it. I went through my Facebook friends list and thoughtfully considered whether or not I would actually be friends with them if we lived in the same town and had the opportunity to have a more connected personal relationship? Would I invite them over for an impromtu Saturday bbq, would I call them for support if a member of my family died, would we have coffee together once a month just to catch up, would we meet at church and want to be in a small group together, would we get together as couples and have a quiet dinner, would our kids play together so we’d get to know each other, would we call each other for Friday Happy Hour at the corner tap, or would we be running buddies? Wherever the answer to any of those questions was YES, I kept them as a Facebook friend, where it was NO, I unfriended them. I am sure that I unfriended a lot of good people – it isn’t personal. I just have decided that I am not going to have any friends on Facebook that I don’t consider REAL.

I’m sure I’ll still post lots of pics and posts about all of the cool stuff that our family experiences. I probably won’t post any pictures of my kids throwing a temper tantrum right before church as I scream at them to GET IN THE CAR SO WE CAN GO WORSHIP JESUS! But that happens. I will probably continue to flaunt all of the fun places I get to visit and go for runs in as I travel for work. I may not post pictures of what I look like when I stumble off a red eye flight home after a long week. But that happens. I will continue to post pictures of the rare and special nights when my beautiful wife and I get to go out to eat alone with no kids. I probably won’t post pictures of the stand off at the dinner table that I have at least once a week with my seven year old when he doesn’t want to eat vegetables. But that happens. And I’m sure I’ll post pictures of fantastic vacations and getaways like the one above. I may not post any details of our conversations about whether or not we’re putting enough money away for retirement or our kid’s education because there just doesn’t ever seem to be the surplus we’d hoped for at the end of each month. But that happens. Life happens to all of us. If we’re going to be Facebook friends, let’s be REAL friends and encourage one another, listen to one another, share tough times with one another, and share honestly with one another.