There is an intriguing little story tucked into the middle of C. S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lucy finds herself in the upstairs room of an old magician’s house, pouring over an ancient book of spells. Within its pages, she is drawn so deeply into beautiful pictures of herself, that she becomes captivated in her own vanity. Lucy turns the dusty pages of the book further and discovers the opportunity to listen to her friend’s opinions of herself. The conversation is so vivid Lucy has a hard time remembering what is actually real. Her heart is so overwhelmed with disappointment that it spills out in a tear trickling down the page, before Aslan the Lion appears with a gentle growl and the urging to stop eavesdropping.
I heard the gentle roar of the Lion New Year’s Eve, while driving in my car to a friend’s house. I was sitting at a stoplight, when I asked myself a simple question, “What is most troubling my soul?” I’d love to tell you that I was deeply burdened over the tragedies of our current events, concerned about matters of social justice, or simply wanting to love my neighbor. I had been carrying around an ache in my soul for about a month, like a meal eagerly consumed in haste, now sitting like a rock in my stomach.
The ugly truth: I was consumed by how many people had not responded to my recent Facebook post.
I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Information Media. I recently finished writing my doctoral dissertation about social media use. My Facebook friends helped me complete my 18 weeks of training for a 5k, helped raise money for clean drinking water in Africa, and have been an audience of readers for my blog.
I had stopped looking through my newsfeed, unable to take in one more picture of another person’s success without feeling like I was losing at life. I had deemed Facebook, The Daily Disappointment, chronically discouraged that my pictures of shoes, clothes, and daily antidotes received so much attention while the posts about things I care so deeply about were continually ignored. My mind was such a buzz, wondering what clever thing I should say next to gain more attention, having to resist the urge to constantly check my phone to see if my thoughts were validated with enough “likes.” I found myself in a continual state of distracted thinking. I missed the pleasures of deep thought, and wondered if I could actually read a whole book or if my attention span had been severely amputated to Twitter’s 140 character limits.
How many times had I snuck my phone off with me to the bathroom just so I could continue to check it? I was addicted. I was reaching for human connection and significance, both good things, but I was struggling to find them in a stream of pictures and texts. I was attempting to medicate my loneliness by inhailing a fog of social media haze.
So, about a week ago, I deactivated my personal Facebook account. Call it a New Year’s Resolution, if you will, I just wanted my soul back. I hope it reduces the amount of noise I have in my life and increases my focus, inspires me to search for significance in the right places, and propels me to interact with more people face to face. I hoping to see in 2016 that Lewis’ words prove true, “Aslan's instructions always work; there are no exceptions.”