You can tell it’s Lent, because all of a sudden people vanish from the Face of the book, and I start to feel like it’s just me, talking to myself in a wasteland.
I get it. I understand that–especially to those for whom Facebook is primarily a place to post and read links or play games–Facebook can be a time waster and a temptation. Same goes for other social media applications or Internet forums. But for some of us, the Internet is also our main means of communication with friends and family.
“It’s good for everyone to step away from the computer and socialize,” people say.
No, you don’t understand. I step toward the computer to socialize, not away from it.
Many (maybe even most) of my most long-time friends are people I first met on-line. On-line, you can take as much time as you need to come up with a response in a discussion, and the playing field is leveled since everyone with a keyboard can “speak” at the same time and at the same volume. You can take in each person one at a time, instead of being completely shut down by the too-much going on in a crowd.
And when we actually meet in person for the first time, they have some inkling of who I really am. I’m not handicapped, as I suspect I usually am, by a first impression that stamps me as a silent, sweating weirdo who prefers to wedge into a corner and smile weakly.
Writing slows things down and drops stimuli to an acceptable level. It works for me. In another time, I suspect I would have been the kind of gal who carried on long and detailed correspondence by letter.
So when everyone disappears, I feel a little like they’ve just stopped responding to my letters. Because that’s…more social somehow?
As I was working up this rant, another thought occurred to me: Lent is also meant to be a time to spend time alone in the desert. You and God. Reflecting. Praying. Taking stock.
I’m not giving up social media for Lent. But it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little less time feeling lonely and a little more time being alone.