Why I Ditched Social Media For Lent

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M_Cara

I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Pinterest off my phone for Lent.

Now, hear me out: the act of deleting said items off my phone did not bring me closer to Jesus, and abstaining from social media does not go hand in hand with holiness. I also do not any better understand or commiserate with Christ’s suffering now that I can’t check status updates and news feeds forty times a day.

And I did not have my forehead marked with the sign of the cross – from ashes you came, to dust you will return – on Ash Wednesday, crucify various apps on my phone late that night, and suddenly find solidarity with the Christ the next morning.

But I am beginning to see, just a little bit more.

I still check in once a day—on a good, old-fashioned laptop—mostly because there are a handful of online writing groups I’m a part of whose interactions are almost exclusively limited to Facebook. My own writing is also somewhat dependent on networking and marketing within various online platforms, but that’s no excuse to live life with my face glued to a four-inch screen.

I’m not actually living life when I come to think and believe that the interactions and the pictures and the witty comments are life. Because they’re not. They’re actually jealousy and they’re competition. They’re feelings of being the only one who wasn’t invited to the party, and they’re the evil lies every woman struggles with, the lies that we are too much of this and not enough of that.

They’re everything that Life is not.

And I don’t know about you, but I want a life and the Life that sees and that hears, that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places. I want to notice and breathe in and salivate for what Christ sees, not for what Cara thinks she should see.

So, I’m learning what it means to see again.

Now, when I stand in line at the grocery store, I don’t check Facebook for the fifth time that hour. Instead, I look around. I take notice.

I see the woman in front of me in line, how she leans against the counter, and looks the cashier in the eyes, and begs for conversation. Questions volley back and forth between the two of them, as one rings up the items of the other. And in that moment, mutuality exists between the women, for they both just want to be known.

And isn’t that what we all want?

Isn’t that why we make our way to various social media outlets anyway?

We want to be known and understood. We want to be loved. We want to be seen. We want someone to say, “I see you,” and to look us in the eyes and call us by name.

This is who God is to us, after all, and this is who we’re invited to be with others.

This is who I’m invited to be when I’m standing in line to pick up my son from preschool. I can look the other mamas and nannies and grandpas in the eyes and I can call them by name. I can high-five the younger siblings and the babies nestled close to the breast, and, young and old, I can ask them how they’re doing.

I can choose to see them.

I see you: it’s an action and it’s a choice.

This is who I’m invited to be when I meet up with a girlfriend for coffee and breakfast sandwiches on a Friday morning. It’s easy to believe that I know what’s going on in her life because I’ve read her latest blog post. But those words are merely a reflection of her, an image of what she chooses to make public through a particular story.

Now, I have an opportunity to see all of her.

I see you: it’s a chance to enter into dialogue, and to listen more than I speak, to understand more than I seek to be understood.

This is who I’m invited to be at home and in my community, when I’m with my children and when I’m holed up in a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon by myself. It’s who I’m invited to be when no one is looking, and it’s who I’m invited to be when the whole world is watching.

It’s who you’re invited to be as well.

Might we receive the invitation to see again, maybe for the first time. Might we learn to see, anew and refreshed. And somehow, along the way, might we put into practice three very holy words: I see you.

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Cara Meredith
Cara is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She is chipping away at her first book when not searching for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and the HBH (Hot Black Husband), try to dance nightly and live life to the fullest with their two young sons.
Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith

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Cara Meredith
  • As much as we want to be known and understood, social media can be a means of fragmenting our identity: the Pinterest perfect life and the perky FB updates can be pretty disconnected from reality. I applaud your fast — whatever it takes to be more present to real life!

    • carameredith.com

      “social media can be a means of fragmenting our identity” :: I love how you said it here, Michele! And yes, here’s to being present to real life!

    • Saskia Wishart

      such a wise reflection on Cara’s piece! Michele, I hadn’t thought about the fragmentation aspect, but it rings true.

      I have been trying to stay off social media after 9pm at night, and to not open it immediately when I wake up. Such simple barriers but they have proved to be a huge challenge!

      • This is good, Saskia. I’m trying to be more intentional in that way as well, and, oddly, I feel less pressured with boundaries in place.

  • I did the same thing, Cara – took social media off my phone. In being more intentional by opening the ole laptop to check, I’ve been more selective about what I look at and how much time I spend interacting. I’ve also appreciated the noticing – spending time with strangers or my own thoughts or actually pulling out a book (!!!) on the park bench. I had grand plans of reading the Beatitudes, a la Madeleine L’Engle instead, but that hasn’t happened. But I am grateful for the small holiness of noticing. As the end of the season approaches, I’m wondering what I’ll do – I love the ease of having those apps on my phone, but…. I’m loving not “having” to check all the time. Maybe I’ll be more selective…

    • carameredith.com

      It’s such a great conversation to enter into, that’s what I say. It’s amazed me how much I haven’t missed now that I’m only checking it once a day. I’ve definitely been reading more (which I love), so I think I will go back to out of sight, out of mind – back to what cell phones originally were intended to be: a phone!

  • I love that you shared this. My choice for Lent is nearly identical, and I do not plan to put everything back on the phone when it’s done.

    • carameredith.com

      Dana, let’s hold each other to it, to not putting it all back on once Lent is over. It’s just felt HEALTHY.

      • When Super Tuesday felt peaceful and calm (though disappointing) I knew I was on to something REALLY good

        • carameredith.com

          It really is amazing how much PEACE it brings. Agreed.

  • Sandy Hay

    “I want to be seen” is the mantra of so many. All generations have had this, starting with the 60’s but it seems even more so today. Maybe it’s because I have 2 teenage granddaughters and one tween. Maybe it’s because I too, this grandma, spends too much time on her Facebook and twitter pages. “I see you: it’s a chance to enter into dialogue, and to listen more than I speak, to understand more than I seek to be understood.” I’m asking God for this with the girls. (and if you’re ever in Philadelphia check out El Vez, well known for delicious guacamole, especially the goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes version…YUM 🙂

    • carameredith.com

      Sandy, this IS the mantra of so many people, men and women, old and young …I think it’s the mantra of most humans, really. And I LOVE your guacamole rec! Philadelphia is on my list of places to visit. My husband when to undergrad there, so I’ve always wanted to see it. 🙂

  • Beautiful …

    Yes.

    • carameredith.com

      In this with you! xo.

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    YES. Thanks for this, Cara. So powerful.

    • carameredith.com

      Thanks for your encouragement, Katie! And I saw that you shared it on Twitter, as per my lovely laptop’s reminder, but won’t be able to actually log on to Twitter till tomorrow and officially thank you there. 😉

  • Love this Cara! As one who checks her phone often during the day, I’ve been trying to cut back and have made some progress. You’ve inspired me to cut back even more. I want to notice life around me, not be glued to a screen. 🙂 Blessings!

    • carameredith.com

      Ooh Gayl, give it a try ….delete it from your phone. So powerful!!

  • This is so great Cara! I recently told myself I would take Facebook off my phone for a week to see if it changed anything. When that week came to an end, I didn’t put it back on. It felt like a mini miracle had been worked in my life. I had no idea it was weighing on me so much. The only thing I miss are the emoticons. 😉 Here’s to social media freedom!!!

    • carameredith.com

      Social media freedom, indeed! It’s been so interesting to see what I miss (not a whole lot) and don’t miss (mostly, a whole lot) when my face isn’t glued to it 24 hours a day and I’m not believing that it’s life. So, here’s to not putting it back on!

  • Roos Woller

    Thanks for sharing so good.

    • carameredith.com

      Thanks for your encouragement, Roos!

  • Kristy

    I love this! Every time I have been tempted to pick up my phone or check something on the computer lately, I’ve asked myself, Why? What am I looking for? If I have a valid reason to use the device, I do, but more than not I find I just want some sort of connection, and there is almost always a better way to find it.

    • carameredith.com

      Yes! Sometimes the simplest of words – why – can yield the biggest answers. Great thoughts, Kristy!

  • margaret philbrick

    I don’t even have an iPhone. Never have. Never will. Walking in freedom!

    • carameredith.com

      Sounds like you’re ahead of the game, Margaret! Does social media affect you likewise on the computer?

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