The other night, as I settled into my flannel sheets (I may have a problem) and got ready for some much anticipated snoozin', I noticed that I was feeling... restless. And a little angry.
It wasn't a specific emotion, really... just a vague sense of tension and conflict and annoyance... and I was having trouble pinpointing it.
What was it that was irritating me?
And then I realized-- the comments section.
Just moments before, right before I'd put my phone on its charger for the night, I'd quickly swiped into Facebook and found myself embroiled in a political discussion, and the comments my relative had made were so far off base... and while I didn't reply, I just knew she was wrong and boy did it get my ire up.
It seems to me (and maybe I'm just especially sensitive to it right now, I don't know) that tension and conflict and anger are reigning supreme these days. It certainly seems that way on my social media feeds. And it's affecting me.
I think it's time to admit that it's affecting me.
And honestly? It's mostly my own fault.
When I got my smartphone, I said it wouldn't change anything really. My behaviors wouldn't change just because of this little device made of metal and glass and magic.
But- full disclosure- being in possession of a screen with access to unlimited resources and funny videos has definitely, 100% changed my habits.
Now, don't get me wrong here. My behavior is my behavior. My phone and laptop are not enemies or tricksters- they're tools. And the way that I use these tools is up to me. I'm responsible for this irritation, for the anxiety, for the lack of white space in my life when I can't put the dang thing down. It's all on me.
Since I'm late to this whole smartphone thing, you've probably read all this before-- but this is new territory for me. Something tells me that with all the election-based conflicts, the marches, the protests, the fake news flying everywhere... you could probably use a reminder, too.
Put limits on it.
Of course, your boundaries are going to be different than mine, and mine are going to be different than hers... we all have our own bandwidth, we all have our own responsibilities. But I thought that writing out my own boundaries would help A) to keep me accountable; and B) give someone else an idea or two.
Don't Spend More than 10 Minutes on Facebook at a Time
I check Facebook a lot. Just being honest. Between having a blog, a business page for work, and FB being the primary means of communication with the outside world while I'm at work and don't have any cell reception, I check often.
While checking is important for me, mindless scrolling for extended periods of time just shouldn't be. It takes just a minute to see if there are any messages on my pages and respond- I don't need to be on Facebook for more than 10 minutes to get the job done.
Don't Get News from Facebook
Here's the thing. News- in general- is not a social thing. I don't really need to know what the gal I had one class with in college thinks about the latest Trump update... I just don't. And in my experience, the majority of news-related articles on Facebook are either terribly biased, from unreliable sources, or are chock full of fear and click-bait-y titles.
Instead, I'm taking some time to get news from actual news sources, and ignoring newsy FB posts. And I'm using that little down triangle in the corner to hide newsy-type websites from my FB feed- since I am getting news elsewhere, I'm still informed.
Don't Click to View Comments on Controversial Articles
It just makes me mad.
Seriously. Yesterday I saw a post from PETA that I disagree with, and made the mistake of viewing the comments... most of which were farmer-bashing hate tirades. Given that all the farmers I know or have ever spoken to are wonderful people who take very good care of their animals, I got all riled up. Over comments. From strangers.
I don't have the mental or emotional capacity to be mad at people I don't even know, and it isn't a good way for me to foster the fruit of the Spirit in my heart and mind.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. That's what I'm going for. Not power, judgment, sharp-tongued-ness, or rightness.
Do Take the Conversation Off-Line
We can't (and shouldn't) avoid all conflicts. If someone I know and care about posts something that I disagree with or is outright false, I can say something... but not in a Facebook comment.
Send a message, or better- call them, or better- grab a cup of coffee with them to discuss it.
If the argument isn't worth arranging a coffee discussion or at least a phone call, then it's probably not worth getting upset about.
Do Remember Who You Are
It's easy to get caught up in things that define our identities.
Pro-life or pro-choice- Republican or Democrat- Minimalist Bullet Journaler or Bullet Journal Junkie- Coffee or Tea- Beach Body or Weight Watchers- WordPress or Blogger
But ultimately, my friend, who are you?
Where do you live?
As Christians, we are ones in whom Christ dwells, and we live in the unshakable Kingdom of God.
Staying grounded in the truth of who I really am keeps me from the need to shout that I'm right (because I am not my intelligence or knowledge) or that I'm important (because I am not my popularity) or that I stack up to the "competition" (because I am not the battles I win, and I am not the state of my kitchen, and I am not my reproductive capabilities, and I am not my crafty-ness).
Facebook is an awesome tool- keeps me in touch with far-flung friends and family, allows me to see videos of cute goats that my mom sends, helps me connect with my blog readers- but my mental, emotional, and physical health suffer when I don't put boundaries on it.
I'm hoping that enforcing these rules on myself will make a difference going forward.
What boundaries do you use with social media? I'd love to hear about it so I can steal your ideas, too. ;)
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