Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I sold my life to social media...and I didn't even know it.

“Mom, I think you like your computer more than you like your family.” Ellie stood in front of me – and my computer – fists on her hips and waiting for eye contact.

“Oh sweetheart, that is not true! Of course I like you better!” I responded defensively.

“No mom. You spend more time playing with your computer than you spend with us.”

I reached for the top of my laptop and slowly began to lower it in an attempt to close the computer. However, I was in the middle of reading a blog post, or an e-mail, or some status update on facebook, or checking stats on my blog, or something, or anything, or absolutely nothing. Still, it took all the willpower in me to close that screen instead of finishing whatever it was I was doing at a time.

Someday, I will be begging for Ellie’s time and it will be too late if I don’t change this. I have to be present if I want to be a part of my girls’ lives. They are more important. I don’t ever want to regret this. Not ever. 

“You know what Ellie; I think that I should not be on the computer from the time you come home from school until the time you go to bed.” I finally said.

“Really?” Ellie’s sweet and excited voice was accompanied by a big smile.

“I will try my best.” 

It is not easy

I didn’t anticipate for it to be this hard. Like a drug addict going through withdrawal I find myself constantly standing by my computer. “I can check my e-mail really quick; it will only take a couple of minutes.”  I know it only takes a couple of minutes for me to be lost behind the screen. A couple of minutes soon become another afternoon spent with my on-line friends rather than the family I love and actually get to do real life with.

That is the hardest part. I have exchanged real relationships for those that take place through a computer monitor. I chose to do “virtual” life rather than real life. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense at all. Especially when my family is the ones I sacrifice. Ironically, it is my family that I love the most and they are the ones that really matter in my life.

The seriousness of it all

I have an addiction, and it is damaging my real relationships just as much as if I was an alcoholic or a drug addict. I have become an absent mother and wife, all for the sake of social media.

Recently, a friend of mine posted on her facebook page (Yeah, ironic, isn’t it?) a link that tells you the average time you spend on-line each day. She was brave to have her number displayed on her facebook wall. Do I want to know? I was already struggling to keep my afternoons free of my computer; did I really want to know the seriousness of my little addiction? So I clicked on the link and the number broke me. The result of “9.8 hours a day” was not only embarrassing, but also shameful, because I could no longer deny that I sold my life to social media and I didn’t even know it. So I am taking my life back! (<---tweet this)

Those results are what led me to write this post, because I told you I would be real. But also, because now I have more people to keep me accountable. Because I know that this is a real problem easily dismissed because “everyone else is doing it” but the pull of this media-saturated-culture is so strong that it is destroying our relationships.  I cannot sit back behind the screen and do nothing about it. I have to take ownership of my time, of my life, and the gifts that God has given to me. 

I do not know if you struggle with this or not, but if you do, we can stand together. We can take ownership of our lives and get them back. We can become present to the people we love and care for. It will be hard, it will be really hard. The temptation is only a click away. But it will be worth it, so incredibly, absolutely, and completely worth it. Time to stop living behind a screen, and start living life to the full.

I would LOVE to hear from you on this topic. What has social media been like for you? How do you balance it? Do you know how much time you spend behind the screen? What are your thoughts?


Linked to:
Women Living Well
Winsome Wednesday
Works For Me Wednesday
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Life Unmasked

Bless a Blogger Friday


Thought Provoking Thursday
Proverbs 31
Thankful Thursday

44 comments:

  1. Very brave, Ellen, and so true. I think it's hard being a stay-at-home mom because the Internet is one of the few connections we have to the outside world. Once when I couldn't update my FB status for a week, it's was crazy how irritating that was for me. But that's the only way I have to interact with everyone else who is working or my online friends who live nowhere near me.

    I feel good about the fact that I don't watch much TV. But I probably have just substituted that time behind a different screen.

    Thank you for this post. It will make me think twice before I open my computer again.

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    1. I agree with you Shasta, as stay at home moms it is very hard since it is our connection to the outside world. The problem is that I am too connected with the world and not enough at home!

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  2. Hi Ellen, I appreciate this post a lot. I wonder too what my daughter is really thinking when she asks me to get off the computer. I agree with Shasta - the Internet makes it easy for us moms at home to connect with the world. It's easy to get caught up in it, especially since (likely in all three of our cases) we are on the Internet a lot of the time blogging about our kids, researching ways to help them, or talking to other moms who "get it".

    Thank you for writing this - you are going to make me much more aware of how much time I actually spend.

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    1. Yes, as mommy bloggers this can be hard. But, I know I sacrifice my family all too often and it is not just blogging. Sometimes I can click from e-mail to blog, to facebook, to stats, and start it all over again @@ What a waste of time! yet, it is so hard just to close the laptop!

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  3. This is so so true. I too wrestle with setting limits and Focusing on my family, I have learned so much and found a community of bloggers that make the walk feel not so lonely.

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    1. I agree, I have met incredible people thanks to blogging.

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  4. I started setting limits for myself years ago. Facebook came to be when I was in college so it became something of a joke when someone would come out of their room saying, "I was in my room studying, so of course I was on Facebook...." (except it wasn't one of those not so funny jokes). I check Facebook once a day. Although I've been debating deactivating my account. I will not tweet more than once a day (however I have a bad habit of leaving Twitter open ALL DAY). I think it depends on how you spend the rest of your day. I work with computers at my job so I'm either standing in front of one or fixing them. So when I get home I want nothing to do with any computer. I have a bigger problem leaving the TV on & not actually watching it.

    I have lived without computers, internet, or cable before though. For the first month or so it was hard. But you get use to it. I actually ended up doing more house chores to fill the time. When I went back to having modern technology in my house again it took a while to even want to check my email.

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    1. I am sure at times the last thing you want to do is look at a computer! I too lived without a computer and I did just fine! So I know it is something that I can do. now to do it!

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  5. Oh.my. I could have written this post. I am totally addicted. I fasted from Facebook for one day yesterday. A group of women adopting from Bulgaria all decided to fast and pray on Valentines day for Bulgaria. We could choose whatever we wanted to fast from. I didn't want to choose Facebook but I did and it was hard...really hard...in fact much harder than it should have been. I found myself clicking into it out of pure habit multiple times a day and then realizing that I could look and clicking off real quick. Once I saw that I had to private messages. It KILLED me not to check them. I know I'm addicted, I know it's gotten out of hand. This is crazy. So what can we do together to stop this?

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    1. Been there done that! What can we do? Let's chat!

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  6. This is true for me too. I have to try to limit my time online. I have tried to do my computer things during the boy's naps; but then I don't get anything done in the house while I have them 'contained' ;) So I've actually been struggling with the balance of it lately. I think it's addicting for the SAHM, and it's a place where we can talk to people who understand what we are living.

    On the opposite side, while I was in Ukraine and all I had was the computer to keep me with people I cared about, I grew to hate it. I literally refused to touch the thing or look at it for a month after being home. I need to find the balance somewhere in between.

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    1. You know Ruthann, when I was in Ukraine I was on-line for as long as I was awake in my apartment. I was alone and it was the only way I felt connected! But like you, once I came home I was so excited to be with my family that I probably was the wisest when it comes to on-line time.

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  7. This is a topic that I've felt convicted about too. But I also feel called to write on my blog and that takes time to connect and get the word out to others. So my blog hop days remain a priority--cuz after all, I enjoy reading all these great posts too. But this makes me want to reevaluate my time more. I guess that means I should shut up and start praying! :)

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    1. Once you come up with a plan, I would love to know about it!

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  8. I was thinking about limiting some of social media activities this afternoon because it's so easy to get sucked in and lose time on what needs to be done and like you said, spend it with those who are in our lives.

    I know it's tough to cut back, but your children will definitely remember the times you spent with them long after they are grown.

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    1. I have asked my oldest to help me with this, and she is pretty good at it ;)

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  9. Oh my, i should re post this lol, that's exactly me. But!!!! Because of this eye opener post of urs, ill take my first step to take my life back, as in now. Im closing my computer now now now lol.

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    1. Did you? And when you come back, feel free to share this!

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  10. I respect you so much Ellen. Your forthright attitude in the posts you write, from your first reaction to Nichole to your media addiction, is refreshing! I struggle with social media as well. My computer was broken a little while ago and I was actually thankful because it limited my time plugged in. But that beast has crept back in, demanding more time, lately. Thank you for the challenge!

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    1. I have to say, thanks to blogging I was able to meet you, and I am thankful for that!

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  11. Hi Ellen - this is so true. I have been investing more and more time on my computer and have had to pull myself back. I have limited my time on the computer and it is hard but the most important thing is to honour God and if the family is suffering, then I'm not honouring Him.

    In limiting my time I went from posting every week day to twice a week. I prayed that the Lord would honour my blog anyway as I tried to honour Him in my blog and my blog has grown still. To put God first is always the way to go.

    Great post Ellen
    God bless
    Tracy

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    1. I just want to say thank you Tracy! I take your words to heart.

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  12. I am on my computer a LOT too, and I wonder if my husband thinks it is too much. I spend time with him every evening watching a movie or TV so all is not lost. Love my husband and I must admit I also love my computer.

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    1. I know my husband does think (okay he knows) that I spend too much time.

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  13. This post really convicted me. It's something I've struggled with a lot too. My daughter will be 2 in a couple of months, and it's so easy for me to let her play by herself while I "check facebook one more time..." Eventually she gets frustrated with me, and with all the force her little toddler-ness can muster, yanks on my hand and starts crying.

    A few months ago I challenged myself to only go on the computer while she was sleeping (early morning, afternoon nap, after bedtime). Maybe it's time to try it again...

    Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for linking up to NOBH!

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    1. Good luck! In some way, we are in this together. let's get our life back and be present with our families!

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  14. Oh, how easy it is for us to get sucked into social media! At our house, I made certain that I am only on the computer during nap/quiet time, or in the evenings when my husband is working of something else.
    I always appreciate your honesty, Ellen! Your words are heart-felt & encouraging!
    Jessica

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    1. Thanks Jessica. You are always a great example because I know how intentional you are with all your kids.

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  15. Ellen,
    I arrived at the same conclusion, that social media was replacing those things that were most important. I shared it in a post on my blog that you might enjoy reading called "Facebook Devotions and Anemic Christians." God bless you for being sensitive enough to hear God's voice and take the initiative to change. Remember that you can "do all things through Christ will gives (you) strength!" Lori
    http://lori-benotweary.blogspot.com/2011/11/facebook-devotions-and-anemic.html

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    1. Thanks for sharing the link Lori, I will have to go and check it out!

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  16. Hi Ellen, I always enjoy your posts and this was no exception. I can be compulsive about checking my stats/comments/subscriptions/etc. Recently I realized I need to get up and "go out and play" sometimes instead of spending so much time in front of the computer.

    I also agree that the needs of our families must come first. However, let me add a caution from my experiences now that my children are grown: It's important to distinguish between our children's needs and their desires.

    There were times I gave up growth/ministry opportunities to serve the wishes/desires of my children.

    Doing that can make our children self-centered and can make us "children-servers" instead of God-servers. Looking back, I can see that I often did this, and I regret it.

    That in no way corrects anything you've written in this post...but I just want to add that caution.

    Thanks so much for sharing this great post on Bless a Blogger Friday. I'm praying God continues to use your gifts for His glory and I pray that He will direct you as to your use of your computer time. Bless you!
    Gail

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    1. Gail, you bring up a great point. being a pastor's wife, I think my experience is a little different, but I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

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  17. I needed this post more than you know! I have to get a handle on this myself! Thanks for the great post! Now off to be with my family! :)

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    1. Enjoy your family! And, I need to be reminded of this again and again as well. I struggled with weather or not to write the actual time I spend on the computer, but if I tell you I struggle but not how much, then I am not being honest. hate that number, so I am working on it.

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  18. You've struck a cord with alot of people, including me. My husband actually asked me today to star researching the link between multitasking and ADD (which he and both of our boys have). I kind of paused and he said, "Do you want me to be more specific." Obviously I did. He said, "What do you think the link between having the tv on while the kids are playing? Or the TV and you playing a game with the kids or on the computer?" This got me thinking about how often I have the tv on in my home. I turned the tv off for the night after I hung up with him. Now I read this and it gets me thinking even harder. I want to be a better example to my children. Can I get off the computer while they are awake to spend more quality time with them.

    My goal, after reading your post, is similar to yours. I will only be on the computer when the kids are not up. Not only that, but I am going to set restrictions on how much TV we watch. Not going to be easy, but well worth it. Thanks for the incentive to get started.

    Here's to becoming a better wife and mother.

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    1. Good luck! And yes, it is not easy, but well worth it. Thanks for your comment and for sharing a little bit of your experience with me.

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  19. Such a truthful post.

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  20. Such a great post! Thank you for your honesty. It is so hard sometimes to put the computer away....but why? We have real people in our lives that God has blessed us with and yet we neglect them for people we've never met. It is so sad and I want to get a grip on it now before it's too late. Thank you so much for sharing this thought-provoking post.

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    1. People we love vs people we have never met. I love that simple yet truthful statement!

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  21. I thank u for this post. I've have heard bloggers talk time and time again about finding the balance and being sucked in, but quite recently I have realized that my computer 'addiction' is no different from any other addiction. I have gone through withdrawal when I step away AND I find that when i step away I'm not as angry or impatient.
    You know what's pathetic?..my son (age 10) has said the exact same words to me as yours has said. that is hard stuff. the hardest part is feeling that God is nudging you to blog, yet the enemy ensnares you. ugh. thank you so much for your honesty!

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    1. You know? I too find myself being more patient and less angry when I take a break. Or maybe I should say when I live with a balance, with boundaries, and self-discipline. Then I have more time to do the things I want to do. Funny how that works huh?

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  22. What a powerful post, Ellen. We do have to think about the time we spend on the computer with virtual friends. We need to enjoy life in the real world.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

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    1. And you know, actually being honest about it and sharing it here has been a tremendous step for me. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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