And it’s been confusing to process and challenging to verbalize, because it’s not just physical tiredness I’m experiencing—it’s also some sort of spiritual and emotional fatigue. The best way I’ve found to describe what I’m feeling is existential exhaustion—being tired, worn out, and depleted at my core. But I wasn’t able to understand and name why this was happening until last night, through a conversation with Mandy.
I think it’s all connected, for me, to Facebook.
I’m not alone in this, but the last three months of my communal and pastoral life have been spent on social media. I’ve been almost exclusively a phone-based friend and an online pastor. Facebook has been my home—my primary connection to the outside world, including the congregation I serve.
But as you all know, Facebook, now more than ever, is a place of divisiveness and hostility. Everyone has an opinion, no one is agenda-less, and most people hold their opinions with far-too-much certainty. So, when you combine that with the fact that misinformation abounds, from all parts of the political spectrum, it makes for strange and strained relational dynamics. Facebook is a dangerous place to live right now, rife with political, racial, and social landmines that might explode with any false step.
And that’s what I find to be existentially exhausting.
I’ve only just begun to recognize it, but as a human, friend, and pastor, I’m finding it downright draining to navigate the information and misinformation, opinions and reflections, posts and comments of Facebook on a minute-by-minute basis. As someone who seeks to avoid the fray of partisan politics as much as possible, has family and friends on both sides of nearly every issue, and who pastors a church of immense political diversity, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to know how to be faithfully and pastorally present on Facebook.
If someone shares an article or a comment that I agree with, how do I respond? What message am I sending through a ‘like’ or a comment? Is that the message I want to publicly display?
If someone shares or comments in a way I disagree with, how do I proceed? Do I push back? Do I let it go? And then if I do let it go, I find myself mulling over what I *would* have said had I *not* let it go?
And what do I personally share or not share? Or if I share something or comment and someone pushes back against me, do I respond or let it go? And what do I say and how do I best say it?
It’s all very confusing and frustrating. But what I’m just now realizing is that it’s also quite debilitating. It’s stealing my soul, robbing my energy, and distracting me from what’s really important. I find myself thinking about these questions way too much, and it’s taking a toll on my body, mind, and soul—not to mention my ability to be present and attentive to God, my family, my friends, and the world.
So, I’m stepping away from Facebook for a little while, to give myself space to rest, heal, and focus on what’s really important. I need a social media detox. I’m deleting the Facebook app from my phone and will only use it for my job, including live streaming our worship gatherings. Any Facebook posts you see will have been automatically linked from Instagram, which is a fun resource for connecting with friends and not an exhausting platform for debating and arguing issues. I have no idea how long this Facebook Fast will last, but I’m excited to see how my body, mind, and soul might heal from this existential exhaustion.
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