Mardi Gras (and, by default, Ash Wednesday) sneaks up on me every year. I mean every year. I'm still reeling from my holiday hangover when BAM! Now I must take down the tree and begin thinking about my Lenten sacrifice (yes, I took our tree down on Fat Tuesday...and I would have left it up if we didn't desperately need that 5 square feet of space for living. Related: no more apartments. Not ever. Seriously.). And because I'm caught unaware by Lent, I almost always pick something cliche to sacrifice for 40 days and 40 nights. Chocolate. Wine. Clothes (buying them, not wearing them....although that would certainly be thinking outside of the box). I've never attempted Facebook but by the number of fans I lose on the business page during Lent and then magically regain again at Easter, I would assume this is a popular one. But I can't make it stick because I love chocolate and wine and clothes and Facebook.
So, this is the part where you say "sacrificing what you love is actually the very purpose of Lent. Keep on keepin' on, sister." Normally, I would agree with you. But I gave it a bit more thought this year and decided that not only should my sacrifice mean something to me, it should mean something to others, too. Not that I want to stand outside of my house and clang my cymbal for the Lord so y'all know I'm doing Lent, but because I want to be better and do better. I want to be a productive and inspirational force for as long as I'm here.
I'm starting with Facebook.
I decided to only post status updates that are informative and/or educational. I have been doing this naturally for a year or so - which is about how long it has taken my husband's FB habits to rub off on me. But also because, in my Facebook Utopia, updates are used as a way to convey information that will be useful to others. Opportunities to volunteer. How to provide aid to a family in need. Thought-provoking questions about politics/government/religion/education that are meant to inspire discussion, not become a forum for name-calling and bullying. But intermingled with my NY Times articles shares and blog posts about my favorite small business products has been a smattering of food photos, fakebooking posts about our great our lives are, and a fair amount of complaining about the Army. I find all of these things annoying when other people do it so why should I be spreading my stupid sauce around the Internet?
There has been an unintended consequence to this whole thing, though. I quit checking Facebook. Apparently, I only read my newsfeed as a consequence of logging on to post my own update. Also, I've quit updating. Not because there isn't anything educational or informative to share, but because that requires a certain amount of effort. And, as it turns out, I do most of my sharing when I'm sharing other people's updates...which I'm not seeing if I'm not checking Facebook.
Here's the thing, I have basically (and accidentally) given up Facebook for Lent. And I don't so much miss it. I do try to get on in the morning and post the happy birthdays (because my personal 8 September is so much brighter when I get, literally, hundreds of birthday wishes and I want to pass that on), but I don't miss the cartoons, the political snark, the ads for businesses that I should "like" based on my taste in music, and so on and so forth. I feel a little out of the loop when it comes to my friends and I do miss that. If I could filter updates the way I can filter people, I think it would be a much more enjoyable experience, overall. But then we are what we post. Sometimes I am a gouda pizza-eating, slow jam music listening, impatient driving fool. Other times I am a wealth of historical factoids. If you want me, you gotta take all of me. And I think that goes for all of us. But for 40 days and 40 nights, I'm trying not to share so much of me with so much of you.