30 Days Without Facebook and Twitter: What I Learned

I just finished my first 30 day challenge of 2011: no Facebook and Twitter for the month of January. It’s the first of my year’s worth of monthly challenges, and I have to say that having a realistic goal with a not-so-distant stopping point makes it much easier to stay faithful to that change. There’s something about knowing that you only have few more weeks to go that help you actually get over the difficult phase (two weeks in or so) of breaking a habit.

Not that breaking the Facebook and Twitter habit was particularly difficult. I suspect giving up caffeine or television will be significantly more difficult. In all honesty, this was such a busy month for me that I wouldn’t have had much time for social networking, purge notwithstanding.

I learned some important lessons, though.

First, I realized that for all of their flaws, these social sites provide a means of communication with family that’s far away, and that’s something I missed quite a lot. My family doesn’t live nearby, so I kept asking my wife what was going on with family members and she’d show me pictures from Facebook. I also had lots of video and photos of Ethan and our family capers that I wanted to share, and Facebook makes that easy.

However, I also learned that a good deal of what I share on social sites is petty and inconsequential. Not that that’s a bad thing—a lot of our real-life socializing is made up of unimportant exchanges. But I realized how much noise I really generate. Everytime I felt the need to post something, I’d jot it down on a running list I was keeping. When reviewing the list, I noticed that much of what felt important and worth sharing with the world at the time really wasn’t (who but Rogie King cares that I assigned an Epic Sax Guy ringtone to Rogie King?)

Anyhow, I’m going to go look around for some good shots: February’s challenge is a picture a day! In the meantime, here’s my list of things I ultimately found shareworthy in January:

Lessons I Learned

Some are a bit longer than 140 characters, but these are some of the important lessons I learned in January:

  • Being focused is far more useful than being stressed.
  • How you feel is usually a product of how you act.
  • Wondering why no one listens to your good ideas? Start making them happen and you’ll have people’s undivided attention.
  • When you find yourself to be busier than you can bear, make a list of all of your responsibilities, organize them by genuine priority and work as hard as you can with the time you have. Then let go of the guilt of not completing the things of lesser importance.
  • Spiritual lesson of the month? We thank God for His forgiveness, but consider the person hardest for you to forgive. Can you pray for his salvation? The trespass against God seems sort of vague and generally forgivable, but a trespass against us… we understand how that hurts, what that costs us, the weight of the violation.
  • The Net Delusion, by Evgeny Morozov: “Social media has bred a generation of ‘slacktivists’, lazy people with the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time.”
  • “Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.” —Chesterton

Things I Missed

I missed the breaking of several events that mattered (to me anyhow):

  • Mac App Store announced
  • Six Apart Japan acquired
  • New HTML5 badge announced
  • Egyptians want a new government

January Discoveries

I also missed sharing some neat things I discovered:

January Adventures

Lots of exciting things happened in January:

  • Took Ethan sledding for the first time.
  • Got an iPhone4.
  • Saw The King’s Speech and loved it.
  • Preached three times.
  • Celebrated as my friends Jason and Monica get married.
  • Learned about the “dark side” of John Calvin.
  • Locked my keys in the car (yes, during the cold spell).
  • Helped dig out an ambulance stuck on our unplowed road.
  • Saw snow lightning for the first time.