Iâ€™m in the fourth day of Facebook detox.
If you read this space regularly, youâ€™ll know that Facebook has inspired a good many dialogues (and articles) for me. Some of my favorite colleagues I know only through Facebook. Itâ€™s become one of the worldâ€™s great gathering places, so it would be silly for me not to be there and learn what I can.
And yet itâ€™s just too easy to slip away for a moment, take a quick break from work, disrupt whatever Iâ€™m doing to check Facebook. Itâ€™s easy to respond to x conversation, add a quick comment on y page, maybe post an update or a question of my own, watch that video (itâ€™s only two minutes)â€¦.
Before I know it, my concentrationâ€™s shot. I donâ€™t know what or how much Iâ€™ve accomplished. Each day ends with a vague sense of waste. So Iâ€™m off (or nearly off) Facebook, at least for a few days.
This seems to be the way life goes, for many of us at least. We engage, we retreat. We make our mark in the public square, we withdraw to reflect and recharge.
Itâ€™s hardly a new idea. Early Christian thinkers spilled a lot of ink reflecting on â€œthe active lifeâ€ vs. â€œthe contemplative lifeâ€ and opining which was better. In modern times the general conversation speaks of introversion and extroversion.
For me, the best is a blend of bothâ€”or, rather, a flow between the two. Iâ€™ve spent much of my life in a more contemplative place. Now, with the book and the articles and the conferences and whatnot, my life has taken an active turn, without leaving the contemplative behind.
This flow, I think, is essential for us as people of dialogue. Individual dialogues are demanding work. They require intense periods of listening, deep reflection, compassion for the other, and great care with language, among other things. We canâ€™t sustain these wonderful efforts forever. We have to process, give our souls a break, let our preconceptions and the input from the dialogue play together.
How do you know when the flow is shifting? This is where I think listening comes in: listening to oneâ€™s own heart, to oneâ€™s exhaustion levels, to the tenor of the conversation at that moment, to the situation, to the other. If we develop an ear for these things, we can let the shift happen when it comes, respect its timing, and go with it.
Oh, it helps to listen to loved ones too. With the Facebook business, I ignored the shift for quite a while. Fortunately, one passing comment from my wife woke me up to face what was happening.
Iâ€™m sure I will be on Facebook again at some point. If I listen to my heart with enough honesty, Iâ€™ll even know when that point is. One can only hope.
Have you ever done a Facebook detox? Did it help? How? Feel free to share.