Why I Ditched Social Media For Lent



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.