What I Have Learnt from my Three-Year-Long Facebook Break

On 30th January 2017, at 15:10 hours Zambian time, I publicly announced that I was going to take a break from Facebook. This is what wrote: 
Social decorum and etiquette press an obligation on me to let you know that I will be taking a leave of absence from Facebook for a period of time, and so I will be inaccessible on this social media platform. If you wish to contact me, kindly use my mobile number or email address. Thank you, and God bless you.
And the morning of the following day, I deactivated my account and became totally invisible on Facebook. It’s been three years and three months since my presence was muted on this platform. It was a decision I took to make this hiatus personally beneficial to me and to my family in every sense. I have enjoyed my absence from Facebook and would have gladly stayed away from it indefinitely. I received numerous messages from many people asking me when I was going to get back, and I never gave any timeline. Well, in comes Covid-19, and it sure has smoked me out of my hibernation cave. The need of the hour is to lead the Emmasdale Baptist Church in ministering God’s Word to the members and the rest of the world by the means of this platform and other live streaming avenues. Without Covid-19, would I have gotten back to Facebook? Maybe, but probably not now. Thank you for those who told me they missed me and were looking forward to my coming back. 


As I come back to this platform, let me share with you some of the lessons I have learnt from my three-year-long absence from Facebook.

1. It freed my mind and time to focus on many important things in life     
By not being engaged in what sometimes can be a mindless scrolling through Facebook, sporadically flitting from one thing to the next, it gave me more time and opportunities to be preoccupied with other things that are far more important in life. I read more, I spent more time with my family, I re-discovered the beauty of solitude, stillness, and meditating upon God’s Word. I also found the joy and power of my imagination in writing. 

2. It allowed me to be more present to myself 
Content Coach & Creative Mentor, Jen Carrington, writes: "The only way to clear your head from the noise is to actually step away from it for a while." Facebook clutter can sometimes become so intense that you can't see the forest for trees. It is amazing how quickly Facebook can make you become so overtaken with what is happening around you that you get carried away by the tide into the virtual deep waters. You can easily become so distracted by what others are saying and become absent from yourself. Thank God that I was able to live my life as me (I am not speaking selfishly here). I was inspired to become the me that God wants me to be, without wasting my precious time on the incessant feeds that populate your Facebook wall. 

3. It allowed me to maintain my sanity and have lesser things to aggravate me about the disastrous failures of our politicians
Facebook is an endless source of information about the happenings on the political front. Some of it is false, and some of it verifiably true. By remaining ignorant of some of these things, I was able to keep my wig on. I know myself very well, and I think I easily get indignant at the serious shortcomings of our politicians, and they have been many lately, especially from those that are in government. So, I did not have to fight my temptation to express my opinion over several political issues because often, I did not know much about what was happening politically, apart from what I read in the papers, and occasionally heard on the now-closed Prime TV. (I am actually fighting the temptation to say something about the closure of Prime TV. Well, not now).  

4. It enabled me to distinguish "friends" from friends  
The world was able to go on without me, and I was able to go on without some people in my life from the vast world of Facebook. There were many people that never missed me, and many that I never missed. Social media makes you think that you have so many friends when they inundate your wall with birthday messages, anniversary messages, etc. Most of them do so, not because they know these important dates in your life and care enough to share the joy with you, but because they are reminded by Facebook, and simply join the bandwagon in sending you these messages. The birthday messages I received the last three years mainly came from friends – friends who are truly friends, if you know what I mean. I learnt that I was important to those who believed that I was important. 

5. It has taught me that less is more 
This is the simple and last lesson I have learnt. “Less is more.” It’s a phrase I picked up from Kevin DeYoung, pastor at Christ Covenant Church, and an Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, USAIt is an undeniable fact that we all know, and yet few of us are willing to live by it. Will we not be happier, healthier, holier, and more productive if we used social media less, turned on the television less, etc? Admittedly, this is an area that falls under our Christian liberty, but just coming from a three-year-long break from Facebook, I know what it means that “less is more.” I have come back more determined not to use my liberty as a license for bad habits that do not add much to one’s spiritual health.  

Facebook is the biggest social media platform with more than 2.4 billion active users. Since it went live on February 4, 2004, in a Harvard dorm room, as a brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, it has become a part of life for millions of people around the world. There is so much good that we can derive from Facebook, and also so much bad that it can bring into our lives. Used to God’s glory, it has tremendous potential for much good for the world and for God’s kingdom. We must not allow Facebook to flood our minds with irrelevant and meaningless information, feed our appetite for unfruitful entertainment, lower our tolerance for serious thought, and blur our minds to reality.   


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