Internet. Facebook. Texting. Blogs. Just a decade ago, these items had nothing to do with my daily life. Nine years I didn't own a cell phone. Eight years ago I didn't have a laptop. As a teenager I got online a few times a week for help with an occasional school assignment or to use ICQ or AIM to chat with some of my closest friends.
Today, as a young adult, my cell phone and computer dominate my life.
I hate to admit it, but if I am being absolutely honest with myself, I spend more time on Facebook each day than I spend reading my Bible and every other form of literature combined. I would choose to text a friend or family member rather than calling them on the phone, almost 99 out of 100 times. Thanks to the wonderful invention of the internet, combined with all the websites that have been created to enhance our connectedness and communication, I can keep myself and my husband up-to-date on almost all of our friends from college or family members who live elsewhere. I let him know when certain people get engaged and married or occasionally divorced. When our female friends find out they are expecting a child, or another friend gets a new job or changes churches. I make sure he knows the name, birth date, and important facts about the children born to people we know really well....and even those we don't know so well.
Facebook has been a wonderful resource. Let me repeat that so that I know you heard me: "Facebook is a wonderful resource." As are the internet, blogs, text messaging, instant message programs and the list goes on. But here's my personal struggle. I abuse these resources. I have displayed little amount of genuine Godly stewardship of these tools. Instead I have allowed myself to become consumed (addicted?) and dependent on them. Sure, I can spout off a general picture of the stats of someone's life. Important relationships, names of children, current job or school, I know what TV shows most of them watch, a funny story from their latest family reunion or when the last time they visited the dentist. I convince myself that since I have probably read the majority of their updates about the mundane as well as the important happenings in their lives, that somehow I know them, that in some way I actually know what's really happening with them.
One of the beauties and benefits of e-mail (remember e-mail?) was that we could write our letters and send them instantly, our recipient could receive, read and reply to them instantly. We could communicate instantly! But I find myself leading a life of no genuine communication. Am I able to update everyone on how I feel and what I think in 420 characters or less...instantly? Sure. Can my "friends" give me their opinion on how I feel or what I think...instantly? Yes. Are we communicating? Ummmm... I guess? But even if we aren't communicating, at least we are doing it instantly!!
I have gotten to the point that Facebook isn't a tool I use to communicate with anyone. It has become yet another medium for entertainment. I can waste time on Fb just like some people waste time playing video games, watching TV or renting movies. If I can't sleep at night, I get on Facebook. If it's time to nurse the baby, I can get on Facebook to pass the time. If I've had a long day and need to unwind I can get on Fb. But it isn't just limited to time spent in my home. Thanks to the wonderful invention of internet on my cell phone, I can check (and DO check) your latest updates, photos and comments while I'm in line at Wal-Mart, waiting in the lobby at my doctor's office and even sitting in the pew before the service begins Sunday morning.
Is there necessarily something *wrong* with any of that? I would say....no. But what else could I be doing to be a better steward of not only my Facebook, but also the time, circumstances and people that are being used or ignored in each of the mentioned situations? Well for starters, I could invest in a reading lamp and pick up my Bible when I can't sleep (or even use the often ignored Bible app I have on my phone!). When it is time to feed our baby, I could (here comes a innovative idea) I could talk to the baby, sing to him, tell him about my day, invest in his communication skills, work on my relationship with him. If I have had a long day and need to unwind, I could do something really old fashioned and call a friend to *talk* about it instead of typing "Been a long day, time to unwind" followed by an hour of scrolling through my News Feed. At Wal-Mart I could ignore the assumed rule that it is somehow illegal to talk (kindly at least) to any other shopper, and strike up a conversation with the lady behind me (if she isn't on her cell phone that is). I could use the time to think of something actually meaningful to say back to the cashier instead of "I'm fine, how are you?" I could pick up a informational magazine at the doctor's office and learn something. In a time when education can make you bankrupt in no time flat, free education should be taken advantage of at every given opportunity. And on Sunday mornings (as if I even need to say this to myself) I could....TALK TO THE PEOPLE IN MY CHURCH FAMILY!! Introduce myself to someone new, let families know I had prayed for them that week, give some hugs or handshakes for crying out loud.
And what about the time I am spending on Facebook? Could I trade that hour of useless scrolling through the newsfeed for an hour of typing a private message to encourage a friend I know has been going through a hard time, updating a family member I haven't seen in a while on my life, sharing with an old colleague or peer something exciting or interesting that I learned this week? (especially now that I will be doing all of this extra reading :) In short, could I actually use my Facebook to communicate rather than solely for wasting time and entertaining myself? Revolutionary idea, I know.
As with most areas of stewardship, I have found (for me) what helps is baby steps. Today I want to become a better steward of my time on (and off) Facebook. I am not expecting to instantly become a perfect steward of it.
I think of it in this way. If I had to say that I can do something "perfectly" I would have to think of my alfredo sauce. Now YOU may not say my alfredo is perfect. Even the majority of taste-tasters would not say it is perfect. But if you ask my family, my husband and I would both agree that it is perfect. We love it. When I first started making alfredo sauce, it was *okay.* Eatable at least. But once I knew I could make the sauce that I LOVED to order at a restaurant, but make it for cheaper and healthier at home, I set myself on a mission. I wanted to make the perfect alfredo sauce. I tried to make it better each time. I wasn't even sure what the perfect alfredo sauce looked like or how it tasted, so every time I just added something different or changed ingredients until now I make a wonderfully tasting alfredo sauce, good on top of noodles, steamed veggies, spaghetti squash, chicken or shrimp.
I don't know what the perfect stewardship of Facebook looks like. I don't know if the answer is to deactivate the account. I don't know if it is to limit my time on it and set up a schedule for use. I don't know if it is to communicate in long private messages with people and not look at pictures, read statuses, and poke. (Okay, I probably know what the answer is for poking). What I do know is that becoming a better steward includes: using it less, and not using it in situations when I could be doing something more profitable with my time. So today I am committing to becoming a better steward of my time on (and off!) Facebook in the situations mentioned earlier.
How about you?