For over 10 years my wife taught at a small Catholic K-12 school.
It was her first full-time teaching position and it was a blessing for us.
This is where she grew up personally and professionally and where our children started school. I still smile when I think of the family atmosphere of the little old school in St. Mary’s Cathedral.
I also smile when I think that we have been accepted into this family even though we are not Catholic.
Betsy and I grew up in non-Catholic Christian churches, and that’s where we continued to gravitate into adulthood.
But we have always learned to respect the deep faith of many in the Catholic Church, and as a family we have embraced a tradition like ours.
Something we really respect about Catholics is their dedication to the season of Lent, when sacrifice leads to contemplation before Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Sacrifice always deepens something in a person, which is why we often choose to give up something during Lent, even if it was not required by our own religious beliefs.
This year, Betsy told me she was planning to give up Facebook for Lent.
As someone who also tends to mindlessly scroll on social media, I thought this was a good idea. She wanted to be around more, have more time to do things like read and focus on the girls.
A few weeks later, she told me she was happier and felt like she had more time. She devoured many books, and had more fun with the girls and me. She was less worried about what other people were doing and was more taken up with our own moments. She enjoyed things like attending with our two mothers the Hancock County Community READ event with “Yellow Wife” author Sadeqa Johnson at the Marathon Center for Performing Arts this week.
She was far from being a drug addict before, but the small change has added just a little more happiness to her life.
I have it a bit parallel, but not as rigorously. Social media is important in my job because it allows me to stay in touch with my communities, but I have connected less. I haven’t posted anything either.
I had recognized that, subconsciously, I was equating my self-esteem on some level based on the number of likes I got from a photo I posted.
When we first moved, I thought it was important for us to chronicle our lives to keep our friends and family up to date on what we were doing.
But I feel like at some point I had stopped posting for our friends and more for myself and the positive “jolt” I get when someone likes a post.
I firmly believe that we barely learn the effects of technology on my generation, as mine is the first to be grounded in the world of technology since elementary school. Its power is enormous and it is important that we constantly examine its role in our lives.
I was in college when Facebook first came out, when it was only for students at certain universities.
“Who would ever communicate with people like that,” I remember saying in disbelief to a friend when she discussed an interaction with someone on Facebook.
I was of course wrong, and since then social media has taken over the world, disrupting the industry I’m a part of and changing everything from politics to war.
Taking a step back is like hiking in the woods. Calm, fresh air has a way of rejuvenating.
I am grateful for my family’s experiences and how they have led us to appreciate the season of Lent. And I’m grateful that this year we’ve been able to explore the place of social media in our lives and have been able to take back some of the ground we gave it.
After Easter I will still be online and will still use social media for my professional and personal life and to connect with friends everywhere.
But, if something comes up that’s more interesting and beneficial to me than mindlessly scrolling my phone, I think I’m more apt to jump in and do it.
I can always talk about it later.
Originally from Alpena, Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Courier in Findlay, Ohio, The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin, Ohio, and Review Times in Fostoria, Ohio. He can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected]