Samara O'Shea

I Don’t Want Crumbs from a Life

Our new friend Limner left a great comment a few days ago, and I’d like to respond in depth.

She said: “I gave Facebook up months ago and haven’t looked back. I don’t want crumbs from a life. I’d rather have a letter or even a phone call. I can live with long silences, too, ’cause I can always imagine how a friend is doing. Or I can wonder, send warm thoughts and go on. I hope you succeed in giving it up.

I am not Catholic so I don’t get the way Lent is observed. I thought it meant giving up something for good. It makes no sense to give up a bad habit then take it up again after Lent. It’s a head scratcher for me.”

Your first paragraph is lovely and amusing. If Facebook isn’t for you–by all means leave it in the cyber dust! Your second paragraph makes me realize that I’ve been assuming everyone knows what Lent is. That was wrong of me. I’ll try to explain.

Before beginning his public ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days to fast and pray. This is where the forty days of Lent originate. During this time, Christians give up something to act in symbolic solidarity with Jesus. We don’t give up a bad habit but rather something we enjoy or something that is difficult to give up. The point not being to give it up forever, but to enact self-disciplined for a significant period of time. Now, if someone did want to give up a bad habit–like smoking–then Lent would be a good time to try. But like you said, taking it back up on the other side wouldn’t do much good.

Some Christians don’t give anything up but rather add something to daily life that also constitutes a sacrifice. Getting up early every morning to run or writing a letter a day could be add-ons during Lent. And if you continue with them after Lent, more power to you.

I gave up Facebook because I knew it would be difficult. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love having easy access to old friends and being able to connect with new friends. But I don’t like the comparing and criticizing that automatically comes with it (the crumbs). Even if I don’t mean to do either of those, sometimes they just happen. I also don’t like knowing that people (some more than others) are putting on a show of how great their lives are. Sadly, I can’t absolve myself entirely of this behavior. I am giving it up as a personal challenge and using this time to reflect on my own social networking behavior (conscious and subconscious)–ideally being in a better place when I return.

I am not Catholic either. I am a member of the Episcopal Church (known in England as the Anglican Church). Ritualistically it is very much like Catholicism (hence we both observe Lent). Fundamentally it is very different. For example, in the Episcopal Church women are allowed to be priests and priests are allowed to get married. The Episcopal Church has also ordained openly gay bishops. I am a proud Episcopalian for all of the above reasons.