“Oh, I have such an addictive personality, I can’t do Facebook.” It was an off-hand comment from a conference speaker, mentioned between bites of sandwich while we chatted over lunch. The conversation flowed away, but his remark planted a seed in my mind. If this man has to avoid Facebook, maybe I should, too.
Later at the conference, the seed cracked open and took root. Often at conferences, the attendees are overwhelmed with information. The final speaker wanted to help us avoid that what-do-I-do-now feeling, and asked us three questions to guide us on our separate ways. One, what is one thing I can do next? Two, what is one thing I can stop doing? Three, who do I need to take the next step with?
I stopped listening after question two. My mind was filled with only one word: Facebook. I need to stop doing Facebook.
Easier said that done, of course. I kept my account but stayed off the site for a while, then was lured back in by some innocuous desire. Now I’m back to where I was before. My brain is suffering the shakes again; all that clicking and blinking of this particular site makes my brain cells vibrate, sending my perilously closer to the edge. Whenever I’m on a social media site, I’m overloaded with stimuli, and it’s not just uncomfortable anymore, it’s painful.
Yes, I realize this sounds ridiculous, and for my literal-minded readers, I’ll add that I know my brain cells don’t really vibrate. But that’s how it feels.
A few weeks ago, I re-read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, focusing on his chapter on simplicity. He advises us to “reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.” My first thought? Facebook is an addiction for me.
I call it an “addiction,” though I’m not on the site as often as many people. I use this word because even when I’m not physically on there, it consumes my thoughts. I find myself mentally putting together updates that I don’t post, or dreading particular topics that I know will be discussed ad nauseam (think politics or boycotts or sensational news stories), or angered by the ignorance and hate that can be (and is) spread on a site of this nature, or fearing the repercussions if I share my opinions.
Facebook is on my mind all the time, even when I’m not in front of the computer. If this isn’t technically the definition of an “addiction”, forgive me—the precise word is somewhere at the center of obsession and god-figure and fear.
It’s absolutely ridiculous for a website to have this much power over my mind, and I can’t stand it. I’m deleting my profile and page soon, no matter what the consequences for my platform building and possibilities for publication. It’s not worth my while to have this addiction-producer in my life any longer.
Why are you making such a big deal out of this, Laura? someone will ask. Why not just be quiet about it? Here’s why: I know that there’s bound to be someone else in this position, addicted and wanting out, but fearful of taking that step. There’s also bound to be others who are addicted and haven’t realized that they can’t simply discipline it; no amount of willpower can control an addiction.
Richard Foster has this to say about defeating true addictions:
You cannot just decide to be free of it. But you can decide to open this corner of your life to the forgiving grace and healing power of God. You can decide to allow loving friends who know the ways of prayer to stand with you. You can decide to live simply one day at a time in quiet dependence upon God’s intervention. —The Celebration of Discipline, p 91
That’s my prayer: that my mind might find rest in God alone. And if it takes deleting my Facebook profile, then so be it.