By Amy Guenther
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love that it’s instant “company.” I can go to my Facebook app anytime and see what’s happening in the world and engage with friends instantly. But I also hated it for a time. Facebook stole my shalom. Can you relate? Read on to learn more about my struggle and two big steps I took to regain my shalom on Facebook.
I’ve been on Facebook for years, and love to scroll through my newsfeed and see all the goings on of the world. Facebook is a very powerful tool and can be wonderful when used correctly. I mostly enjoyed the company, the brief escape to be with adults during a long day with my kids, and to see the funnies, of course.
But a couple years ago, I noticed that more times than not, I would leave my time on Facebook feeling angry, sad, depressed, anxious and with an overall sense of angst deep in my spirit. I also had little ones watching my newsfeed over my shoulder. They could read now, and I started to realized I had to hide my feed from them. Some things my “friends” would post were inappropriate for little eyes. So I started to have real anxiety about my kids seeing my feed.
And that was healthy anxiety. I’m the Mom, it’s my job to protect their eyes and hearts. I am friends with numerous acquaintances, former high school classmates, and on and on. My “friends” are certainly not all believers, and that’s okay. Yet, It started to dawn on me that if I can’t let my kids see or read things, then why am I putting up with it? And what about the other feelings? Facebook was no longer a fun Mommy escape. I wanted to enjoy Facebook again. I wanted to use it as a tool for the Kingdom. I wanted to be a light on it. But first, I needed to regain my Facebook shalom.
I took several deliberate actions to get my Facebook shalom back and I’m going to share with you the most powerful two things I did. It’s not a perfect system, but it has been tremendously valuable. The benefits of taking these steps are that my kids and I won’t see junk, I enjoy the shalom, and it’s been a huge timesaver. There are more ideas than just these two. If you want to share your ideas, please leave a comment! Facebook is always changing and adding more features-both good and bad.
So, if you, too, find Facebook stressful, sometimes disgusting, anxious and so on, consider implementing these techniques. These steps are not for everyone. We are all different in how we process stuff on Facebook, what YHWH calls us to do, and in what we want to see. I often change my Facebook settings and such throughout the year.
Learn the art of the “unfollow.”
The first step I took was that I learned the art of the “unfollow.” If someone posts something that I don’t want showing up in my newsfeed, I unfollow that person. Now, this doesn’t “unfriend” them. You will still be friends, and your posts will still show up in their newsfeed. You can still message with the person. You can still go to their wall and see what they post. They won’t even know that you’ve unfollowed them. It just means their posts won’t show up in your newsfeed anymore. You can change your mind and start following them again anytime.
Now, why unfollow someone? Oh, there are SO many good reasons! One big reason is to protect you or your kids from profanity, sexual or offensive content, and things like that. I’m sure we all have at least one friend or distant relative who posts, um, shall we say, “distasteful” content. Some posts are downright sinful. This is a good reason to unfollow the individual.
Another reason to unfollow is to save time. I enjoy scrolling through my newsfeed to the bottom. But I have way too many friends now, and don’t have time to scroll through my newsfeed while following all of them. This seems harsh, but I had to choose to unfollow several friends just to merely save time. I want to see the the posts from people I’m closer to, or are important in some way, so some less important posts had to go. Does that mean I won’t see absolutely every single thing that every single one of my friends posts? Yes! And it’s okay. If they really need me to know about something, I’ll get a call, message or an email. It’s okay to unfollow people to save time and read only the posts that you consider important.
Another reason to unfollow is to get shalom. Seems obvious, but let me explain just to give you encouragement that it’s okay to do this. YHWH has given me spiritual gifts and certain personality traits. But one thing I’m not good at is watching people argue or be upset. I can handle it for a little while, and then I get depressed and anxious. Some people can handle it with grace and compassion and have the personality to not only watch the debating, but to join in. There is certainly a use for that gift. But it’s not for me. This was a hard one for me to admit, but I finally had to come to terms with the fact that a big reason Facebook was stressful for me was that I was letting the arguers and debaters and complainers and gossipers show up in my feed.
So I unfollowed them. I also removed myself from groups where this went on. Now, I know sometimes there are good arguments and debates, and sometimes I wish I could see them, but I had to choose shalom because sometimes I would leave Facebook really worked up! That’s not fair to my family, so I took steps to change what I see. I’m still friends with them, and love and respect these folks, but I can’t handle watching it all day every day. And I’m talking about all kinds of arguing, not just Scripture interpretation arguments. It could be politics, parenting or anything. Doesn’t matter. If I repeatedly find myself feeling anxious after reading someones posts or comments, I will often make the hard choice to unfollow them. It’s not all the time, but often.
Basically, I’m really choosy. Sometimes I join in, and sometimes I step away and unfollow. I have control.
Click here to see Facebook’s instructions on how to unfollow.
Control who sees what you post.
Here’s the other end of the coin and may help you tremendously. If you ever find yourself worrying about what you post, this trick may help you. You can segment your friends into different groups, called “lists.” Sometimes I want to post something, and I only want my Torah keeping friends to see it. Sometimes I want to post a video of my kids, and I only want my relatives to see it. Sometimes I have a question just for the people who are local to me. And so on. I can have lots of control over these groups of people because I set up lists within my friends.
Granted, this took some time. Actually, it took me an entire evening to make the different lists I wanted. But it has been so worth it! I encourage you to try it. Remember when you get a new friend, to add them to the lists you want. That’s all there really is to say about this trick. It’s simple, but powerful!
Find your Facebook Shalom.
I hope and pray these two steps make your life easier and help you regain shalom so you can focus your emotions where YHWH wants you to focus them. Some of you thrive on Facebook and YHWV has a real ministry for you there. But many of us are moms and wives and need to step away from the drama, yet still enjoy the good parts of Facebook, and there are many good things about Facebook! I encourage you to really try these things if you find yourself “worked up” like I used to. Maybe someday you’ll go back and follow all those people again, who knows? But I’m thankful for the control I have over Facebook so I can be the shalom-y kind of mom I want to be.