“Living Intentionally” is a phrase that comes up over and over again, in the discussion of minimalism and voluntary simplicity. What exactly does this mean, in the context of the simple lifestyle?
It means examining all that you do, and being aware of what is being compromised in exchange for it. Everything has a trade-off. “Mainstream” choices and activities that are taken for granted, often involve sacrificing something that could be better.
We trade family time for television viewing.
We trade our passions for increased hours at work.
We trade relationships for possessions.
Everything is a trade. And, recently, I realized that I was making an unfortunate trade as well.
You know that I am not perfect. I do many things, in regards to simple living and otherwise, that I am less than proud of. You also know that I struggle with balancing online time and finding time to spend with friends.
How did I spend my online time? The majority of it, I spent on Facebook. There I was, connecting with friends. It seemed to be the perfect solution to my difficulties in finding balance. It was also my guilty pleasure…
As soon as I arrived home from work, Rob and I would sit down with our respective computers, while Beanie played. This would continue until dinner time, then resume until Beanie’s bedtime. What did I do online? Well, the majority of my blog posts, I write on the weekends. I spent a little time checking in with the ladies on Michigan Natural Parenting, and reading my favorite blogs.
And then it was Facebook. Posting on Facebook makes you feel like your life is your own reality show. So many things that I did throughout the day, would make me wonder, “How will I write about this on Facebook?” And not big things, like arriving in a new port (although I posted about that too). Uninteresting things, like what I ate for breakfast. And I got to be entertained by pictures of everyone else’s meals! But I was still interacting with friends.
Then, I began corresponding with a friend, via e-mail. Our conversations were so much more in-depth, and I looked forward to checking my inbox each morning. We exchanged funny stories and discussed topics that were much more interesting than viewing pictures of breakfast.
Add to that the negativity surrounding the election. I resisted political discussions for awhile, but the temptation eventually wore me down. Now, Facebook really was not a positive place. One particular altercation, with a good friend, led to my rethinking of the whole thing.
There were some positives involved with Facebook:
–I was able to communicate easily with family, and friends.
—We were able to check-in on our sailing trips.
–It was a great venue for telling short stories, about Beanie and boating.
But, still, the negatives seemed to outweigh them:
–The conversations were largely negative, and became increasingly worse, even after the election was over.
–The conversations I had via e-mail were much more in-depth–more than just small talk.
–The feeling that my life was a reality show–more important, done for an audience–really took me out of the moment during the day.
–I was wasting many hours reading and refreshing, waiting for responses to negative or uninteresting posts.
–Facebook engages in business practices (such as tracking the users’ internet usage, for the sake of placing ads and not showing posts on pages to all subscribers, unless you pay for premium service, as well as blocking pictures of women breastfeeding) that I disagree with.
So, I decided it was time to pull the plug. I still spend time online, but it is largely spent answering e-mails from friends who have contacted me that way, since I have left. Writing back takes time, but it is less time that I spent on Facebook. And it is better quality time. Sure, I don’t e-mail all of my Facebook “friends.” But many of these are people that I wouldn’t spend time getting together with in real life–they’re great people, but we have gone our separate ways. It is important to be intentional with friendships as well. If you’re not willing to spend time e-mailing someone, you probably have grown apart.
I know other people are less addicted to Facebook than I was, or use it just to communicate with family. I respect that. One person’s version of minimalism is not like another’s. But, right now, I’m enjoying the extra hours that I now have, to spend with my husband and child.