In Part 1, I talked about leaving Facebook behind for good. You can read about that tale HERE. Well, life has a funny way of changing the decisions you make.

I spent a good four months away from Facebook. Sort of.

I ended up creating a fake account in order to continue moderating a few pages I am in charge of. It was also so I could still be a part of the 80’s vintage toy groups that I enjoy buying and selling. But I wasn’t friends with anyone. In doing this, some of my groups wouldn’t allow me to join because I looked suspicious with a new account and no friends and a locked view of my page. It really was a problem to continue doing what I was doing.

I was also continually bombarded by other ministers and members of our church asking if I had seen what so-and-so had said and I should check on them. It’s hard to know what is going on in people’s lives online when you aren’t online. So, no, I didn’t see it. And I can’t tell you what they might be referring to. It was getting tough to do my job and be connected to people.

So I recently created a brand new account on Facebook. I gave in. But this time, my plan is to use Facebook differently. You won’t see me posting much. I will be using it to keep in contact with people and to be able to connect with the various 80’s groups I love to engage with. You’ll also see Vanilla Ice Memes continue (ha!).

But this is not the point of this article. What I want to do is tell you some of what I learned by not being on social media for four months.

At first, I got compliments about being able to take such a bold stand. But then it got quiet. I asked people to take down my phone number…but no one called. Finally, a lot of people would ask if I knew I could unfollow people but stay friends and not see their posts. Yes, I know. And everyone said that ultimately they could never leave Facebook because all their communication with distant friends and relatives is made easier because they are all online there.

I got to a point where I had no idea the things that were happening to my friends. I would be asked about someone in my ministry who had posted something really negative. Had I seen it? Of course I hadn’t. I wasn’t on there anymore. It was frustrating being the last person to know what was happening with people that I was supposed to have some kind of connection with.

Reality check: you all look at social media on the toilet. So did I. Go ahead and try to deny it…I know what happens. So I had less to look at on my phone. I didn’t have a bunch of things to read and pictures to see. So I didn’t look at my phone all that much. I could put it down. I think we all should hear this part. We spend too much time on our phones just browsing and scrolling and we really need to consider turning them off and speaking to real people. Look up more than you move your thumb. Talk to your friends and family. It was sad that I would be sitting somewhere and everyone is looking at their phones and I was observing the world around me.

Yes, I didn’t know what was happening around me. But hey, I didn’t know what was happening around me! People argue too much online. They are mean to each other and say things they would never say to them in person. Also, people tend to assume the worst in each other. People are involved in too much drama and they don’t seem to know how to act with one another…at least that’s what I am telling myself. I think we are more mature than this, but we throw off those inhibitions when we talk to the people we meet online. Another thing I have noticed is everyone thinks they are the smartest person on the planet online. People will argue about the dumbest things and will correct one another about the most inane and least important parts of a conversation. Things like grammar, spelling, and definitions are corrected. Then there are the parts of an online conversation where you are trying to quickly explain something so you might not spend much time going into all the little things that might enlighten the explanation. THAT gets attacked ferociously. And you end up saying forget it, you’re missing the entire point of the conversation. I really didn’t miss that part.

I know there are a lot of studies on what screens are doing to our brains, but I want to reiterate this. We need breaks from our screens. I had gotten to a point where I was reading less. After a few months, reading became fun again and I was able to retain the things I read a lot better. The amount of screen time our kids are getting worries me. I want my kids to succeed in school, yet the education system is encouraging MORE screen time. And now, with our kids doing school from home online, they are on their computers for far too long. I hope our schools see how this might be impacting the students.

I won’t be on Facebook to read a bunch of arguments. I won’t be there to snoop on people. I won’t be sharing a bunch of mean memes on political sites. But I will be there to be friendly, share encouragement to our church members, and continue to find the missing pieces to my 80’s vintage toy lines. But most of all I hope others will consider how much time they spend on there arguing points when everyone already thinks they have it all figured out. Those are better conversations in person when we can be more empathetic and speak kindly to one another.

I still think Facebook is stealing our information. I still don’t like the way they censor people they disagree with. I won’t be sharing photos there and information about my family because I still believe that Facebook is not real life. Take some time to be in real life with your friends and family and give your brain a break from the screen.