An Agnostic’s Lent

A friend tells this hilarious story about a meeting where one of his female staff announced that she was giving up chocolate and coffee for lent. He asked if she was also going to give up the affair she was having with one of his staff. (He meant that part to be only in his head). He got a meeting with HR.

We might say that she didn’t quite understand the true theological concerns of lent.

I spent enough time as a youth pastor and, well, as an Anglican that I do understand the theological concerns of lent. Agnostic me thinks that giving something up for lent makes me a more mindful person. It makes me live a bit more in the now.

I gave up social media for lent this year. Not so much to experience a sense of denial, but because I had a vague sense that it was making me  . . . unhappy. In ways that I could not define, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram were sapping me. I deleted them from my phone. I didn’t tell anyone. I just quietly went away to think about it.

I didn’t really miss social media. I missed people. Nothing much changed for the first two weeks. I had some more time for reading. I spent some time each night thinking about various life issues. Change happened about week 3. I got a bit happier. Mr. Spit made a joke at a time when it would have normally annoyed me, and I consciously chose to respond with wit and not annoyance. Half way through lent, I found myself feeling lighter. Joking more. Having fun. Connecting with real things.

The observant of you will notice that Easter was a week and a half ago. On Easter morning I added Instagram and Facebook back on my phone. Facebook lasted until noon before I deleted it again. Instagram stayed. I’ve taken the week and a half to figure out why.

My Instagram is real stuff and people. It’s not curated. It’s HerewegoaJen’s smiling babies Fivestick’s smiling children and meals you have prepared and Phil Plait’s goats and Lindi Ortega’s cats and finished knitting projects. It’s not arty or fancy. It doesn’t make a social point. It’s not marketing. It’s just every day life. It feels a lot like someone sent me a text with a picture.  “Share this cool thing with me”. If there’s a sniff of the hipster, of the need to curate, earnest use of hash tags, the constant one upmanship, I’m happy to unfollow you.

As it turns out, every day life makes me happy.

I didn’t give up social media to edit my life. I didn’t give it up to make a social or political statement. I gave it up because I didn’t think it was making me happy. It doesn’t. It makes me thin and stretched and frazzled. It doesn’t connect me with you. It’s not every day life for me.

So, if you were wondering where I’ve been on social media, now you know.

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