giving up for lent

Earlier this week I began to see proclamations by my friends that they were giving up social media, namely Facebook, for Lent. I don’t get it.

A social media channel is about engaging with people, news streams, and some really cheesy quizzes to figure out your favorite Girl Scout cookie based on your Zodiac sign. At this time, it’s also filled with political rants that are nothing less than offensive, from both sides of the aisle.

Sounds like a family get together to me.

Maybe I’m missing the point of Lent (which, as a culinary Jew, is quite understandable). Aren’t you supposed to give up something that is sinful? Can you explain to me how engaging with others is a sin? If you are engaging with others online to the point of excluding your family and commitments in real life,  I suppose it could be. 

To me, social media, and yes, I really mean Facebook, is a way that I can connect across time zones with the hundreds of people in my life.

I posted a picture of my daughter and myself the other week as we were off on a mother-daughter day. A couple hundred likes. I decided to check and yes, I actually know all these people. Some very well, others are acquaintances, but it was a moment of us reaching out to one another and engaging. And then the phone went away and my daughter and I enjoyed our day together.  Facebook allowed me to open the doors and windows between my different compartments of my life of home, work, spiritual community. By blending these personas together, I have found a better, happier, and whole person.

But it’s not just about me getting mine. Last week I got a friend request from a girl I knew from my childhood. We moved away when I was nine and I don’t think I have seen her since. She found me on Facebook and her excitement was beyond anything you or I could really appreciate. You see, she has some special needs and finding me and my siblings meant something very deep and personal to her. Since then, we are having near daily interactions, and I am reminded of many sweet moments, and the important lessons my parents taught us about kindness and compassion.

But what social media, namely Facebook has done, is gather us together. As many of you know, I started a Facebook group, the Legal Marketers Extraordinaire, almost five years ago. We just passed 800 members. The group is where I go to discuss my industry, ask questions, learn from you.

Going through the members, I am thrilled to say there are so many people in the group that I do not know, names I do not recognize, and who are posting questions and commenting daily. I am so excited to engage with these new people. It is exactly what I wanted this group to be, and so much more. We have created a place where legal marketers who are solos, or consultants, or live/work in remote areas where they do not have an LMA chapter can call upon the masses of colleagues they never knew they had. They found their tribe. This Facebook group has become their go-to place when they have a question, or just want to have a conversation … and mine as well.

So if I am to give up a sin for Lent, it’s not going to be a vehicle that brings me closer to you, or makes me feel a part of a greater whole. If I am to give up anything it’s those things, usually my words, that separate me from you.

Or, better yet, for these days that my friends are off Facebook perhaps I just lean in a bit more, show more compassion and kindness, and give away more than I take. As I live a day at a time, perhaps the best commitment I can make to move closer to this God of my understanding, is to be less self-centered. And the only way I know to achieve being less into self is to be more into you.

My proclamation for this season, which is every day for me, is that I will have at least one meaningful connection with someone, whether it be at home, or work, or in public, or even via Facebook.