Early spring has historically been a boring time of the year for me. For someone whose disposition is largely dictated by sports seasons, late February and early March is typically bland. Football season is over and baseball season is only in preseason. This leaves only hockey and basketball. While I love hockey, I really don't get into it until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, and while basketball is exciting to watch, it's also boringly simple. Everything about the NBA can be summed up in three sentences. A complete basketball neophyte (like my wife) can sound like ABC's basketball genius Jon Barry by just reciting the following:
- The Lakers are too long for any team to match up with.
- The Thunder are explosive, but probably can't survive a seven-game series.
- It might take the Heat another year to gel together.
Nevertheless, the lull during this time of the year is further amplified by Lent, the forty-day season in which guilt-stricken Catholics sacrifice a part of their lives. Many times this includes fasting, particularly on Fridays, but it also includes "giving up" a luxury or vise. Normally, this does not affect me. My Catholic friends' personal sacrifices over the years have never had a significant impact on my life and it has never been something that I particularly cared about. However, this has changed in the past three years. Every year since I became hyperactive in Facebook in 2008, I've noticed that people have given up Facebook for Lent. This has always bothered me because all of a sudden the Lenten sacrifice wasn't something personal; it became something that was publicized and something I had to know about. When someone gives up something like Facebook, people will notice it. People won't see their status updates anymore or see their comments on pictures and notes. You kind of get the feeling that these peoples' intent is to tell everyone that they are being pious. This is not the same as giving up, say, eating candy, which is something that you can do privately and can be more of a personal covenant between the person and God, but giving up a social networking site that you are actively a part of is inherently a public affair. I'm not a practicing Catholic, but as someone who grew up as a Catholic I think I still have some perspective. I just don't see how giving up a social networking website can make you a better person, unless you're using Facebook to cheat on your wife or sell drugs.
Ironically, the people who need to read this probably gave up the internet for Lent. In forty days, the world will go back to normal and there will be basketball and hockey playoffs to watch.