How do I begin to sum up how Project Unplug has impacted my life… It was a year ago this month that I began a personal journey of life away from Social Media.
I had imagined that I would blog along with my written journal entries about the process, but as being unplugged truly took hold of my life, I forgot my desire to relate digitally altogether. I journalled, I wrote (and received) letters, and most of all…….
I lived my life.
Project Unplug was much of what I hoped it would be. Though it honestly took up to a few months to “detox” from social media and the urge to seek quick, limited connection and false validation through those means, I began to forget about comparisons–or at least more easily keep myself from the scenarios in which I was tempted to compare myself. I kept thinking about the scripture that talks about “if your right hand offends you, cut it off” –figuratively speaking– and cut it off I did. Do I still struggle with certain insecurities and the temptation to compare? Yes. Was I able to have victory more often over that struggle while not searching over and staring at other people’s “posted” lives. Yes.
Though I believe the journey is still on-going, one of the biggest impacts this had on my life came as I began a difficult and beautiful process of embracing my individual motherhood-through the context of my own family, and through the context of real, physical community. I began to have more peace and confidence in my own mothering methods based on who I am and who my son is. I was able to enjoy and celebrate each new discovery and accomplishment of his without any idea as to what so-and-so’s child of about his age was doing. There were other mom’s in my life and playmates for Hosea that were in the same life-stages, but it’s a very different thing being with people in person, sharing mothering stories, venting and laughing together, and celebrating our very different children’s journeys. That kind of sharing is within a real conversation and a relationship of trust.
Relationally, I was pleasantly surprised and blessed by which friends and family really reached into my life through more tangible means. Through letters, coffee dates, phone calls (though those remain few because I have an eccentric and intense aversion to phone communication. Don’t ask me why–I acknowledge that it’s super weird and quirky and I am working at overcoming it), sharing meals, date nights, play-dates, and investing in my church community, I was able to find real affirmation, encouragement, and acceptance through face-to-face contact with people that I love, trust, know, and who really know and care about me as well. There’s a profound difference in that experience compared to looking through a social highlight feed and trying to join in hoping the people I care about might catch one of my random posts and that it might actually matter. When I’m sharing my life with a friend in conversation, a letter, or time doing something together, I know it matters.
Practically, I felt/feel a growing acceptance to where my husband and I are in life–our time, our home, our location, our finances. We are not speeding through our days, we are not footloose and fancy-free, we do not have all the things we need or want, we are working hard and all the time, and we are not capturing picture-perfect moments for all to see. However,
We are where we are, and we are who we are, and we are learning and growing, and pressing hard into life.
I didn’t feel as much of a need–if any–to qualify that to any one. As my dear friend Gisele said to me a few weeks ago on a long-distance phone-date, “This is the stuff life is made of!”
Isn’t it!? This is it! Grappling with who we are before God, Grappling with who we are as daughters and sons, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, fellow saints. We are here to live, to GIVE, to push hard. To celebrate together, to cry and ache and hurt together, to be honest with ourselves and the world and to give ourselves away to the world.
The social media culture says, “Life is about me”–not every individual using social media lives by this idea, but what I am speaking about is the culture of social media as a whole and the way it presents itself across society, and I think, if we’re honest, the way it can subtly move us toward that way of thinking–even if we don’t want it. Somehow in the midst of all this, it’s become socially acceptable to show off and to self-promote. I know I’m being counter-cultural when I say, “Life is not about me”. I can’t say I’ve mastered that phrase… oh, far from it. But I can say, I am learning. God has set me upon a rocky path of late, but it’s a path toward humility, acceptance, and hopefully more heavenly wisdom. I know that I cannot engage with humility when all is going my way, when I have all I desire, and when my life looks exactly how I want it to, or when I look exactly how I want to for all to see.
What if I could say and mean with all my heart,
“It’s not about what I have or what I look like, how I feel or what I’ve accomplished, but about what I give to others, how I make others feel in my presence, and how I help them accomplish things they thought they couldn’t. It’s about honor and self-control. It’s about temperance and dignity–humility and Love. Love for One who is greater than myself–who calls me out of myself. Love for my neighbor, love for my community, love for the good things of the earth and a commitment to keeping them good. Life is for the investment in all that goes beyond this life, beyond these selfish pages of our own grand faces.”
My son, Hosea, came into the world bearing his name into our lives. His namesake, the prophet Hosea says, in my favorite scripture passage,
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Though I would not have thought myself to be far from God before this last year or two, I would say that Mike and I were on a wonderful 4-year Mountain Top so-to-speak. I believe that Mountain Tops are a gift from the Lord, but I likewise acknowledge that while upon them it is easy to grow complacent, forgetful, or to slow down in significant spiritual growth. Hence we humans need some deserts and valleys to reawaken our so-easily-sleepy souls. To stay permanently on either a high place or in a low place would be both equally damaging to the spirit.
Project Unplug for me has been a “Returning to the Lord”, and though I had originally set out to do a year, I believe the Lord is not done with this work He is doing in my life. I aim to extend my fast from social media indefinitely.
- My one exception to the positive experience of being unplugged, was when one of my dearest friends, Christine Currie, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and I felt so very far away from where she is and disconnected from her on-line updates. I have accessed facebook through my husband’s account purely to check in with her progress and her prayer page. I intend to continue doing so through her cancer treatment, but aside from that I will remain unplugged.