Saturday, March 08, 2014


I've given up Facebook for Lent.

I won't go into the boring details about how I came up with this "hardship" as my Lenten sacrifice. Suffice to say it was an attempt to give up something that wouldn't allow for any wiggle room (I can't help it -- I'm notorious for finding a loophole in my Lenten commitments), was enough a part of my life so I'd notice it was gone (I thought of sushi, but these days sushi is as much a part of my life as arriving in the Bahamas in my own private Lear jet), and wouldn't set me up for failure (I thought of giving up reading or movies on Netflix and On Demand -- but I knew I'd never be able to do it).

It's been a long time since I really recognized the Lenten season. Growing up as a Roman Catholic, the point was never fully explained to me. I knew the Biblical reason -- the 40 days before Easter, representing Christ's 40 days being tempted in the desert -- but the practical value of what I was doing was always lost on me. I'd either give up something that I wouldn't miss (kale) or I'd give something up...but not quite; like the time I gave up science fiction movies...except on Sundays...or except regular programs like Star Trek...or except if it involved a nuclear bomb, because nuclear bombs were real and not fiction...

This was not uncommon for most of the Catholic rituals and traditions -- we were just supposed to do without really knowing why, other than, if we didn't, we were officially committing a Mortal Sin (deep echoing voice), which meant an uncomfortable trip to the confessional. It is only now that I'm older and have been out of the Catholic Church for almost 35 years that I understand the value of some of those practices as a spiritual tool.

So just as I've come back to the comfort of reciting the rosary as a mantra to enhance my prayer life, I recognize Lent as a time of reevaluation and repentance without the crushing fear of Father Giratti yelling at me to, "Speak up!"

Facebook, I thought, was an automatic habit that eats time and, I admit, controls how I present myself to the world. Also, this would be a good practice in keeping my ego in check: is an observation still clever if there is no one to give it a thumbs up?

At first I thought I'd wimped out choosing Facebook -- I don't spend that much time on it, mostly because I don't have a huge amount of "friends" and those I do have are, like me, people who don't spend that much time on it.

Still, even checking the site takes time, so the first thing I notice is that I'm not online as much.

Granted, we're only into Day 3.

I was going to take the link to Facebook off my toolbar. I tend to automatically go to click on it, just out of habit and then have to stop myself. But I've kept it up there as a reminder of the self-evaluation that is the entire point of the Lenten season.

Each time my cursor hovers over that blue logo, I'm reminded how easily I'm hypnotized by culture and acting unmindfully.