Happy Independence Day!

by Cindy on December 31, 2013

Yes, I know tomorrow is New Year’s Day. But I’m declaring independence anyway.

If you’ll look to the right sidebar you’ll notice that I no longer have a Facebook widget there to entice you to follow me there. There are several reasons for this, the chief of them that social media was pulling me away from my children, my husband, my rest, and my studying, and it simply had to stop. In last several months, Facebook has so effectively tweaked its algorithms to keep readers on their site that I couldn’t get off the stupid thing.

I was drowning in the voices of people who are both completely irrelevant to my life and useless to teach me anything. Facebook is a habit-forming, shallow product, and I want nothing else to do with it. Not only does it suck me in, but I’m also providing content for Zuckerberg et. al that makes them money and sucks other people into mindlessly wasting time they don’t have, as well. It might be entertaining, but it is not very edifying.

Having cut that chatter out of my life completely and found that the only thing I’ve “lost” is about 2,700 sets of eyeballs that weren’t really watching anyway, I’ve started noticing some other ways that the internet, including this here blog, has thrown stumbling blocks into my family’s path. I’ve stopped tracking my stats, turned off Google alerts, and done several other things that bloggers who want to succeed are definitely not supposed to do. That’s OK. I want to succeed, but not at the expense of my real work.

While blogging at GAH! has been a very positive thing, most of the things that go with blogging—social media, networking with other bloggers for “opportunities”, trying to keep one finger on the pulse of the marketing trends of the day (hello, Pinterest, you idiot!)—have not. I’ll bet even those of us who don’t blog are finding themselves sucked into the screen for far too long, many days. I’ve been reluctant to completely cut ties with many of the tools I’ve used to interact with people because I felt like I would be isolating myself and killing my blog. That is the conventional wisdom, isn’t it? Promote via social media or die!

But I’m not sure I believe the conventional wisdom. I’ve found it to wrong about nearly everything else in life, so why not this, as well? The idea that the best way to get traffic to your own website is to direct your readers to hang out with you on somebody else’s website seems a bit silly to me. Great marketing by the social media moguls, I guess, but it doesn’t turn out so well if you’re not one of them. So I have decided to write here, and here only. If it is any good, you’ll subscribe or bookmark it. Maybe you’ll share it on social media yourself sometimes, though I’d actually encourage you to stop doing that if social media takes up more than ten minutes of your day or causes you anxiety that interrupts the peace of your own home, as it was doing to me.

I think we’ve been duped, homeschooling (and especially homeschool blogging) mamas. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we can simultaneously be with our children and not be with our children, or with our friends, or with our husbands. We think that because we’re in their physical presence, we’re doing what we ought to. But my children know better. They know when mommy is distracted by what some stupid stranger on Facebook said. They know when she’s cranky because someone who means nothing to her has said something horrible about her faith or her family or (Lord help me) her looks. They can tell when she has yet again turned her brain off to look at meaningless things that have nothing to do with her real work, her family.

1349985104938

A picture my son (then seven years old) drew for Mama to hang on the back of her chair. Ouch.

Moms, they know. We’re the only ones being fooled by the illusion that we’re gaining something of value here.

We think that chatting with somebody on Facebook is very much like sitting down with a cup of tea and a good friend. We think twenty-second interactions with people are some kind of “ministry.” But they’re not. The truth is that social media interaction is an interruption to social behavior, not an actual encounter with human beings. Ministry is person to person. Social media mediates. It is a go-between. I’m tired of having a screen full of ads and a corporation to mediate between me and my real life. If I’m going to minister to somebody, it needs to be my neighbor. If we’re going to be friends, we’re going to need to be in the same room sometimes. I need you to be able to smell me and tell me (in the most polite way possible, of course) that the new, all-natural deodorant doesn’t deodorize.

The internet can be a very useful tool for research and getting the news of the day. But it’s not truly social. Not for me. If social media doesn’t demand your attention in the same addictive way it does mine, then feel free to enjoy it. Others may. I may not.

There will always be a comment section here (unless I find that becoming onerous as well). I enjoy the kind of limited interaction I get from comments, but I’m finished with internet “socializing.” If my blog dies from that, then it’s just going to have to die. At least my children will be able to remember something about me besides the blank, uncomprehending look I give them when they speak to me but my mind is on things that don’t even exist in their world.

I’m going to go homeschool my kids now, and I’m going to do it better than I had been. I’m going to do it the way the successful homeschoolers in the days before the internet did it—without the kind of socialization you get from the internet.

{ 57 comments }

Diana December 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

Oh, my goodness, Cindy. AMEN. You have done what I need to do. Thank you for the kick in the pants.

Diana

Diana January 1, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Well, Cindy – you’ve done it now! After pondering your post for 24 hours… I deleted my Facebook account. Or at least deactivated it! THANK YOU. Your work here is done – at least on my account. :) Thanks for the New Year’s present!!

And now I’m going to go camp out on the couch with some hot chocolate and deal with the withdrawal cravings. :)

Cindy January 2, 2014 at 7:20 am

I had sworn off FB for a couple of weeks before I decided to pull the plug for good. Every time I thought of opening it in my browser, I started to feel anxious. I feel so peaceful without it that I’m certain your cravings will subside very quickly. I will admit that I do still sometimes have the impulse to post something funny on there, but I’ve decided to save those and (if I can find time) make shorter blog posts out of them here. :-D

Sandi January 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Facebook alone shouldn’t be enough to send anyone into a frazzled mess. It’s just not that serious.

Cindy January 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

We all have our own foibles. I’m sure Facebook is a different thing to different kinds of users. But I’m not sure I ever said “frazzled mess”. Did I say that? Because I don’t think I’ve been a frazzled mess. But I have been distracted and anxious, and Facebook was certainly having that effect on me.

Tori December 31, 2013 at 9:09 am

Awesome post, Cindy! Best to you and your fam in the new year!

Amanda B.
Twitter: submitandcommit
December 31, 2013 at 9:23 am

I understand. I applaud your resolve. I admire your strength. But I still miss you on FB :) No worries, though. Still following you here. Enjoy your freedom!

Cindy December 31, 2013 at 9:29 am

I miss you and a handful of other people, too. :-)

Tara H December 31, 2013 at 9:29 am

LOVE this post. I quit fb a few years ago because I was glued to it! Now you’ve inspired me to clean up my email subscriptions. I follow way too many blogs , I mean when I automatically trash emails aren’t they just in the way?!

Cindy December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

Gosh, I hope you don’t clean me out, too! But if you do, I would totally understand.

Tara H December 31, 2013 at 11:55 am

Nope, your honest and wise insights are always helpful and welcome! :)

Ashley December 31, 2013 at 9:36 am

Oh my gosh, you nailed it here. Complete truth, and I thank you for being honest and brave. Not too many people can stop being distracted, and I applaud you!!! I myself am finally going on the journey of leaving Facebook and getting back to my life!! Can’t wait to read more from you!!!

Nicole December 31, 2013 at 10:43 am

Thank you so much for being real and sharing this. I have often realized how much FB and other social media sights are robbing me from joyful, focused time with my family and friends. The furthest I have gotten in removing it from my life is simply temporarily deleting the app on my phone for a few weeks. Needless to say, I re-installed it and found myself doing the mindless scroll on the screen, reading, lurking, wasting away yet again.

Thank you again. May The Lord continue to use you for His Kingdom work and His glory!

Taryl December 31, 2013 at 11:13 am

Amen to all this! I didn’t want to quit social media, but several years ago The Lord pricked my heart that it had become quite the time waster and idol. It also contributed to me feeling discontent and turned my heart away from living simply, at home, to wanting to do what others (many of whom were non-believer with no husbands or children) were doing instead of my ‘boring’ work at home. And even the very good things about it, like staying in touch with family and my church, were still big distractions from my responsibilities.

So I cold turkey quit. And yes, I’m out of the loop with my own family and church friends, who post their updates to Facebook but never mention them in real life. But that is a SMALL price to pay for the peace I’ve gained from it’s absence. I just look clueless until someone fills me in on news I’ve missed and that’s that. But no more obsessive checking, multiple times a day. No more hearing conflicting and defeating opinions from older acquaintances who are not Christians and don’t value world views or vocations like I have been called to pursue. No more exchanging shallow, quick status updates for real friendship, fellowship, and deep conversation that simply cannot be had through the sound byte format of things like Twitter and Facebook.

For many women, it can be a tool that isn’t a stumbling block. I wasn’t that woman.

Shelly December 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

I deleted my Facebook account over two years ago when I realized that not only was it pulling me away from my husband, children, and housework, but I was also seeing everything in my life as whether or not they would be good statuses. I’m not even kidding. Now when I tell people that I don’t have a Facebook account, they may look at me like I have two heads, but at least now I’m more concerned with feeding my kids than imaginary fish!

Lynda December 31, 2013 at 11:49 am

I have been contemplating getting rid of FB too. I’m a bit attached to it since we disconnected cable earlier this year. It kind of defeats my purpose for disconnecting, and it may be the reason I haven’t written in almost a year. FB is nothing more than sound-bytes and I’m ready to let it go. So happy to subscribe to your blog. Have you heard of Bloglovin.com. That is the only other way I will follow my favorite bloggers. It just has to stop.

Christina December 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for this, Cindy. I’m about to download an app that I can set my fb time allowance on. I do “how-to” videos for e-How and need social media for that part time job but I check it way too freqently. All of my work could be done in one hour during nap time but instead I’m over here indulging an addiction to the thoughts and praise of others. That’s crap.

;) Thanks for the extra kick in the pants to get moving.

Trina January 2, 2014 at 2:05 am

I’d be interested in your app that you can set a FB time allowance on!

Amy S January 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Can this app be downloaded on the computer as well as phones? Do tell!

Rebecca
Twitter: momsmustardseed
December 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I’m not too terribly far behind you. I’m not there very often now – and I agree – too many have bought the ‘use sm or die’ and it is such a distraction!!! How awful that our children think our friends live in fb! I have met many people through it – or have grown to know some a little, but really – real life, that’s where it’s best.

Sending up hugs and so excited about this new year and this new independence!

Blair December 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm

You are so wise Momma. My blog’s Facebook page eventually sucked all the joy out of writing for me. (That in combo with guest posts, Pinterest, posting schedules, giveaways, series, etc.) I thought I was justifying the time spent on my blog by doing those things because I was “ministering” and earning a few pennies. I was FOOLED! I quit all of those extras but I think I did it too late because I can’t even make myself write a post anymore. All that to say that your site DOES minister to me and I AM thankful you are going to keep on writing but I admire you all the more because you are keeping it real and not forsaking your true ministry to minister on a much smaller level to women like me. :)

Jessica January 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Amen. and so full of truth and wisdom. Thank you for your blog and your insight and your courage to take the path less traveled!!

Marcella January 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Wonderful post! This is such a real struggle for me.

Hailey White January 1, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Proud of you momma! I appreciated a lot of the reasons why you stopped FB. A few days ago I deleted my FB account too. . . . . . for most of your reasons, but also because I found that it just took up too much brain space! And my brain space is precious to me. I also found myself judging others . . . bad Hailey.

Cindy January 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Brain space, yes! I didn’t realize how crowded it was getting in my head until I stopped letting so many people into it. How nice it is to have an amusing thought and then just…not share it? Nobody “liked” my funny joke, because I’m the only one that heard it, and it’s still funny! Isn’t that a hoot?

Lydia January 1, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Happy Independence! :)
I’ve been facebook free for 2 years now and its been so great overall although the first few months were tough. I wish I had gotten rid of it earlier. We really aren’t doing our families any favors if we are spending time reading blogs about being better disciples and homemakers instead of BEING better disciples and homemakers.

Michelle January 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for the inspiration! I miss you, but I promise when the kids are all better we will come over to visit! :)

Cindy January 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Yes, you’d better. Don’t worry, though. I made up the deodorant thing. I use the nasty cancer-causing stuff that works. ;-)

Michelle January 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Ha ha! This pregnancy had made me so hot natured my deodorant isn’t helping! You may not want me to come now, until after little miss is born. ;)

Laura January 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I never consciously stopped using Facebook. I just realized one day that I hadn’t been on it for a long time, and that, GASP! I didn’t miss it. It seemed like the same stupid things were posted all the time. It’s boring, really. Since then, I’ve been on it only a handful of times, and each time it’s been a drag just to look through the posts. Goodbye, Facebook, and good riddance!

Bambi January 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Loved this Cindy. I got on FB about 6 months ago and feel like my blog posts have suffered since :( And all the reasons you left, are good ones. It is true, FB “relationships” are not real. I think, truth be told, we *enjoy* the shallowness of it….the way we can only let others see and know what we want them to. And it is such a temptation to let these “friendships” replace the one-anothering The Lord has commanded us to. I also think this tends to be a problem more for women than men.

Esther January 1, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Bambi, I think you are so right about this: “I think, truth be told, we *enjoy* the shallowness of it….the way we can only let others see and know what we want them to.” Well said!

Cindy January 2, 2014 at 7:31 am

Not being very extroverted, I was filling up so much of my “socializing” bucket that I wasn’t feeling the need to connect with real friends as much any more. That is a terribly unhealthy way of using other people. I do miss a few people (like you), who were really NOT shallow in their interactions with me. But it really wasn’t worth it, having so many “people” in my house all the time. I think FB was introducing a kind of schizophrenia. What will the voices think of this? I must consult the voices! *shudder*

Esther January 1, 2014 at 10:43 pm

WOW! I have surely been convicted about Facebook lately and your post might just be the one that pushes me over into letting it go. Thanks so much for your honesty!

Lindsey January 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm

All I can say is be prepared for withdrawal like symptoms : ) Seriously though, I quit a couple of years ago and it took a good 3 weeks before I wasn’t wanting to go to the computer to check for updated statuses. I still have moments of weakness when I would like to look someone up but can’t or won’t because I do not want to get sucked into it again. I also have a 13 year old that I don’t want on there so this is the example she needs to see.

Cindy January 2, 2014 at 7:21 am

I do still have that impulse to head for the computer for “just a look,” but still way easier than quitting smoking. ;-)

Cristy S. January 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Yes, it sure was.

Jessica R January 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

Hooray for you! I bet you won’t miss it after the initial adjustment. After the last presidential election season, I cleaned out my fb friends from “everyone I have ever met” to family and people I had spoken to in the past year only. And then last year I gave up fb for Lent to do a daily Bible reading instead, and didn’t miss it. And then recently I deleted the app from my phone (I’m trying to quit all but consciously, apparently) but am still checking the website several times a day. I should just give it up entirely. My two last protests are obviously fear of missing out (FOMO) since I do only have family and real-life friends on there now, and being informed. Said family and friends post a lot of news and op-ed type articles that I enjoy reading, and that are pretty much my only source of news since I refuse to watch TV news – too violent for my toddler and too aggravating for me. I’m going to become both socially and globally ignorant… let’s be honest, I’ll never search out those pieces on my own. Maybe I’ll limit myself to one login a day or week.

Cindy January 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

You’re right. I already don’t miss it! :-) I get my news from the internet and print. I have no patience for t.v. news. It’s sensational and entertaining, but you don’t end up knowing very much when all’s said and done. I do worry that my friends and relatives will become ever more clueless without me there to share things with them. LOL

Joelle January 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

I left my Instagram account for the same reason several months ago. I was tired of not being able to take a walk without looking for “the shot”. I spent way to much time scrolling through and “interacting” with people I will never meet and have no real connection to. I tried cutting back, but it didn’t work. I felt guilty for not keeping up with the people I followed. I had to cut it OFF. And you know what? I don’t miss it in the least! And I haven’t even touched on the discontentment issue that comes along with IG (and most social media)!! I am a much more content SAHW (soon to be SAHM) when I don’t have everyone’s picture perfect lives popping up in my face (which are probably just that, a picture). And I didn’t want to contribute to anyone else’s discontentment anymore either! Thanks for a great blog post and allowing me to vent! ;-) I will continue reading your blog, I read it for a long time before I started following you on FB! Love your insight and encouragement.

Cristy S. January 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I quit my personal Facebook page two years ago, explaining to friends and family what a time-suck it was for me. They seemed to understand.

Then I found I wanted to enter homeschooling contests, and be notified about wonderful homeschooling products, and needed a Facebook to do it. So I started a new account, where I ‘like’ pages remotely, and sign up for what I like, and have no ‘friends’ on it, and post nothing. I am proud of the discipline I show in not logging in there. It’s almost as empowering as quitting in the first place. I use it for what *I* want, not vice versa.

All to say, good for you, Amy!

Dawn January 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I want to know more about how you did that!

Cristy S. January 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I was off Facebook for a good year, and found that very few people missed me. Those that did, called me on the phone or sent me an email, and mostly within the first month or two. You sure do find out who your real friends are!

I had ALOT more free time, and was able to read so much more meaningful stuff … both on and offline. I also didn’t tell anyone except good friends and family, so there would be no hurt feelings. And as I suspected, everyone else was too busy with their own FB to worry about what happened to me. When I wanted to ‘catch up’ with someone, I would call or write them. It was nice!

A little over 6 months ago, I re-registered with a seldom used email address, just my married name and went through all the settings, adjusting them to the very minimum. No personal details at all. I looked for no one, and read nothing. It took about 15 minutes to set it up so I wouldn’t get friend requests or certain notifications, and because it had been a year, it had no hold on me. Now, when I want to enter a contest or find out about materials, I can use Facebook as I like.

The irony of my Facebook usage before was that it was interacting mostly with people I knew in real life. I’m not a blogger or a promoter of any product. Just your average homeschooler. But really, there wasn’t a whole lot of important things going on there, and I wanted more value in my life. So I let it go.

I would recommend it as an exercise in discipline to nearly everyone, unless your business depends on it. I know a lot of people use Facebook almost as a webpage, so I can’t really speak to that being wise.

Cindy January 6, 2014 at 7:21 am

I know several older folks who think that Facebook is the whole internet.

Carolyn January 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

So, I don’t actually remember how I found your website but I know it wasn’t on facebook because I’m not on facebook. Your content is witty and sometimes faith-promoting so I found it and other people will, too. GO YOU for bucking trends in this (as in many other ways)!

Gillian Gauthier - Gigi Photography - January 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Amen, amen, amen and amen! Well said !! I am so grateful to read your post. I quit facebook nearly a year ago and have not looked back. I quit mainly for all the reasons you just wrote. Sometimes I feel like the only one who is not ON facebook – even if it means I get less hits on my blog and fewer readers, I wouldn’t go back … the little eyes are watching how many hours are logged on the screen. I would rather have them see me read my Bible than check the latest Facebook status update ….

MelissaJoy January 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Right on! I killed my facebook ties three years ago, and I am so thankful!

Melissa Jo January 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Hey, just a small FYI — I read this article with an ad to join facebook popping up on top of your page … just though you might want to change that? And I’m proud of you for dropping it, by the way! Everyone’s comments of being glad to have dropped FB is pushing me to do the same!

Cindy January 6, 2014 at 7:20 am

Oh, the irony.

Bonnie January 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Amen, sister!! I love it. Thanks for being real and brave on the journey!

Mary January 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I understand your position, but I miss your witty one liners. :) I remain on FB for now, though I do go through phases of guilt for time sent there. For now I am staying because I am committed to doing reviews. I go through phases of trying to “cut back” but like you, I always end up sucked in. It is a peace stealer. You have given me much to think about.

I don’t blog for money, fame etc., but because I like to talk about my kids and I like to give my opinion (duh) even if no one may be reading.

Good for you, Cindy! I subscribed via email.

Cindy January 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm

It’s trying to suck me back in, too. Ever try promoting a giveaway without FB? But I just can’t handle it right now. I have a serious problem where it’s concerned. It eats my brains!

Robin January 17, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I deleted my Facebook n ago. I have NP regrets! I did have withdrawals for about a month but those went away and I now rejoice that I don’t have one. I also just deleted my blog. We moved about 6months ago and the only internet we have is on our phone so I wasn’t able to blog……when I finally sat down at a computer I realized I could live without and just deleted it. Research is about all the internet is used for now. Good for you on deleting your Facebook! That’s an admirable stand :( your kids will love the time with you and you’ll love the time with them. One day you’ll look back and shake your head at how much you missed due to a dumb site….I know I do. Thank God He has the power to save us from anuthing-that includes Facebook.

Cindy January 17, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I’m already shaking my head. My goodness, what a waste of precious time! I can’t imagine not blogging, though. If it ever causes me the same kind of trouble, I will reassess it then, but that would be very, very hard to do. I love blogging.

Amber January 20, 2014 at 7:39 am

I hear ya! We don’t have/can’t afford internet right now, so I only get to check it a few times a month usually. I can’t say that I’ve been functioning as a better mom, but that’s probably all the other junk going on (Hubby graduated seminary, we’re in the midst of moving, H1N1 overtake + being in the midst of another bad flu only 2 weeks later, anxieties about the future, and, oh, yes, I’m 37 weeks along), but I’m sure I’d be a complete computer potato had I the option.
I always come directly to your site anyway ;).

Cindy January 20, 2014 at 7:45 am

I am saying a prayer right now for your many stressors. Sounds like you could use them. :-)

tereza crump January 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Those are the reasons I never got a Facebook account in the first place. My family keeps tempting me to get one because everyone keeps up with each other with it. But I rather use email, Skype or the telephone. Congrats on being brave and going against the current. Reading your eBook right now. :-)

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