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Voices: Can Cutting Down On Facebook Save My Soul?

NBC Latino contributor and "highly functioning media addict" Carmen Pelaez has given up Facebook for Lent. Kind of. She's checking it once a day.
Image: Cardinal Timothy Dolan distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday
Cardinal Timothy Dolan distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral on in New York City.Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

Being a writer with a wicked sense of humor, I’m pretty sure no amount of fasting or Padre Nuestros will squeak me through the pearly gates when my time comes. I understand that at best I can hope for a a ceiling fan in hell. But I like to observe Lent. I like being part of something bigger than myself.

The Catholic tradition of Lent is used by millions of people around the world as a time of restraint and mindfulness. Some of the faithful choose to add focused prayer to their every day routine, others decide to deny themselves something they love to indulge in. Both engage with the idea that it will simplify their life and strengthen their spiritual profile.

My way of getting into closer proximity with the Almighty is usually to post a #somethingbeautiful image to my Instagram account. I figured there’s enough pain in the world, a chocolate-less me wasn’t going to help anybody. So a few years ago I decided every day I would put something beautiful out into my network of friends and colleagues hoping it would add a moment of grace to their day.

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But this year, I wanted to challenge myself. I’ve added giving up Facebook to my repertoire. Well, kind of. I’m only checking it once a day. I may be Catholic but I’m not a saint. I still live and work in the 21st century, It’s not like he sent my a sign or anything, but I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t want me to drop out of society completely.

It's hard being away from my office, town square and stage - but I'm doing ok.

This may not sound like a big deal to you, but considering the time I usually spend on the social network I promise you, this is testing my spirituality, my willpower and my self esteem.

You see, I work from home. Facebook is my office, my town square and my stage. I get to see what everybody is up to as I stand in line at the grocery store. I get to wax poetic about whatever political issue lights a fire under me that day and likes and comments are like a little applause.

Sounds vain doesn’t it? I know. It feels ridiculous, but I love it. I am a highly functioning social media addict. The empress of my own island, the CEO of brand Carmen. But I’ve managed to get through the day away from my cyber self.

I’ve read. I’ve knocked some items off my to do list and most importantly, I’m learning that the world at large will survive without my big Cuban mouth opinions. I feel like I got laid off from a job I thought I needed but didn’t want.

I have lost my ability to talk chisme with my mom and my sister about mutual friend’s posts. I can’t make fun of that ugly baby if I don’t see the picture. But that may help me with that cooling system in hell I’m hoping for. And I don’t know if my opinion on a given candidate or news item resonates at all. But you know what, it’s a relief.

I mean, it’s only been a few days. But already I feel liberated from the cage of my own self consciousness which has pushed me to live very consciously. And ultimately that’s the point isn’t? Jesus, please tell me I’m right.

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