Dear Facebook, Instagram, and the Internet in general,
We’ve been on a break for the last couple weeks. I do this periodically to keep a healthy relationship with you because I have known to be a little dependent. I hate to admit it but sometimes I have needed you for validation – how many likes did I get?; or a way to escape – I don’t want to feel anything right now so let me get lost in other people’s lives for a moment.
So instead for the last few weeks, I’ve returned to the beauty of my own sensory perception. Delighting in my five senses while hiking, knitting, or just thinking. (And sometimes all at once.)
But you have somehow managed to always be on the back of my mind. What’s new? Am I missing out on some great article or updates from friends? Will I still be connected to all my relationships that are sustained somewhat by social media due to physical distance?
The interesting thing is that I have taken a break from all of you because I WAS afraid of missing out. Afraid of missing out on what was going on in front of me. A few weeks ago, I hiked deep into nature, to a remote locale without service, and I felt grateful to be forcibly separated from you so I could be absorbed by nature herself. I couldn’t text or call my family and they had no way of getting a hold of me. I couldn’t post the spectacular vistas in real time. I couldn’t post a blog about how great it felt to be disconnected from the online world.
I decided to extend this break because I was about to embark on a few travel adventures with my family. Travel adventures that would require all of my energy – energy to tap into my multi-tasking logistical side, energy to recognize and be aware of my children’s hunger, exhaustion and hormonal cues, and energy to be present in the miracle of each moment we were together. And with all this family time, I knew that I would have the smallest of moments alone. I wanted to spend these tiny portions of solitude in stillness or writing in my journal and not lose myself in your worlds.
I try to make a case against you each time we are on a break: You are a waste of time. What people post isn’t really what’s going on. You are a vehicle for showcasing ignorance and hate. You make me judge and compare and sometimes I feel like a total piece of crap after spending hours scrolling through other people’s lives.
For the past few weeks, we have had the most wonderful experiences on our travels. We are living our dreams out loud. But we also have had some tender times with tears and homesickness. A homesickness that I can’t make go away with a kiss and a hug. So I have stayed away from you and posting our adventures because I haven’t been able to be as transparent as I’d like to be.
Life isn’t perfect, we all know that. But my question is, why do I feel like it has to be to post the beauty, to post the pauses in the pain? Why is it sometimes I feel like a fraud when I post a calm before/after the storm picture on Instagram?
Hold on, let me finish. This is still a love letter because every time I question our relationship, you remind me of a truth that is sometimes hard to swallow.
You prove one truth to me that I keep forgetting every time I start hating you: the love for you is correlated with the amount of love I have for myself. And by love, I mean the healthy kind. That giving, open, expansive, and compassionate love. You are my mirror just like everything else in my life. When I choose to stop judging myself and others, I see more beauty in humanity on my Facebook feed. My heart tunes into a different frequency. When I am afraid and alone, you amplify that too. When I feel there is something missing, your posts make me envy and compare. When I feel full and light, I am grateful for each and every post that comes across my feed. I can put the device down after a reasonable amount of time and go back to my sensory experience.
It has to do with intention, my friend. This is what my wise and patient husband said to me the other day as he lamented that I haven’t written a blog post or shared anything online. He said that it has to do with intention.
(He’s a big fan of yours…for obvious reasons…)
So why share and like and love?
To share in hopes that we might give comfort or to inspire others. To learn from each other. To connect in ways that surpass physical boundaries. To like and love for the simple fact that we do – we like and love each other.
When I lay my heart out in honest surrender, you send me love. You send it when a friend sends me a short and sweet text saying they are thinking of me or a friend in another country sends a FB message to Skype soon. You provide articles that articulate exactly how I feel which gives me the relief of self-awareness. I see photos of friends and their families living in joy. I don’t need the behind-the-scenes. I know that their lives are like mine – complicated and messy. But in that one instagram photo or Facebook post, they shared the light. The joy. Even if it lasted for only that instant.
That’s what I learn from you. You give me what I give. I receive what I need when I need it. I write here and my heart feels a little lighter. I post Instagram photos from our travels because there is so much beauty to be discovered wherever we go and because learning and curiosity never ends or is confined to text books or an institution.
When I take a break from you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s me. I need to step back and re-evaluate how I feel and what I need. But because of you, I have been able to maintain relationships and connect with others all of the world. You are the reason we are able to live our dreams and travel. I have been inspired by postings from friends and strangers to create a life of my choosing and to question my beliefs over and over again.
Thank you my old friend.
P.S. This doesn’t mean I am going to get on Twitter and Snap Chat. I still have five kids to homeschool. 🙂