As per usual, I'm shutting down my Facebook and Twitter for Lent.
I'll also probably start blogging more. If you're interested in following along, you can have posts sent directly to your email.
Or, once plug back in, I'll just shamelessly blast out all of my posts on social media.
Because there's no promotion like self-promotion!
The first time I gave up social media for Lent, I thought that it would "do the trick." But then within a few days of logging back on, I devolved right back into old habits.
Why keep doing it, then? I already know how it will go. In fact, it tends to go in stages:
- LIBERATION!!!! I feel SO FREE!!!!
- OK, now let's get that book written.
- How about getting a head start on designing those fall courses!
- Google News [refresh, refresh, refresh]
- Gotta get that Linkedin profile updated.
- Anything new on Google News?
- Is it Easter yet?
OK, so the problem is probably deeper than social media.
But still, I need the break--the reset, even if the effects are temporary. It has become something of an extended digital sabbath.
I credit this insight to Walter Brueggemann's, Sabbath as Resistance.
My wife and I led a discussion group on this book last Lent. We both came away with a new appreciation for sabbath, for a commandment that is situated uniquely between those associated with obligations to God and those associated with obligations to neighbor.
In other words, sabbath gives us the opportunity to pause, and remember what matters most in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It is a time to connect, to build bonds, and to find our shared humanity.
As Brueggemann emphasizes, though, sabbath takes work.
I have come to think that the fourth commandment on sabbath is the most difficult and most
urgent of the commandments in our society, because it summons us to intent and conduct that
defies the most elemental requirements of a commodity-propelled society that specializes in
control and entertainment, bread and circuses...along with anxiety and violence.
Rest, then, is not just sitting and doing nothing. The rest associated with sabbath implies some sort of resistance, a resistance to the idols of daily distractions, productivity, consumption, and flashing screens.
Of course, all of this stuff isn't inherently bad or unnecessary. It can all be part of the process of making our way in the world.
But when business overtakes us, and the rest of sabbath is set aside, we lose sight of why we do what we do. And this is what makes the intentional rest of sabbath so counter-cultural and necessary.
As with most things for me, there are parallels to distance running.
Any effective training program requires a balance of effort and rest--hard workouts and long runs offset by days off and recovery. A friend once advised me to have a weekly, monthly, and yearly plan for rest. Be deliberate about it, because if you don't, your body will force you into downtime.
Injury is a reminder that I'm getting greedy, and that I want more from my running than my body will allow.
Similarly, now is the time of year for me to gain perspective on my social media usage. It won't fix anything. Perfection is a long way off for me. But I can always hope to get better.