"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Going Offline

Thirty years ago, media encompassed television and radio. That’s it. Nothing else. No one owned personal computers. The internet lived in someone’s head. Al Gore’s, so I’m told! IPhones and iPads didn’t exist. Responding to a phone message might take days instead of minutes. No one Googled anything or Facebooked anyone. And a “pin” was something you wore on a sweater not put on your Pinterest board.

Giving up media for seven days might have been a bit easier than it is today. Approaching this week in The 7 Experiment, by Jen Hatmaker, gave me anxiety. Thus far, I’ve fasted a week in food, clothes, possessions, and now this tough area. Unplug completely? Very tough in this age of texting, emailing, internet surfing, and Facebook stalking.

My plan for the week seemed doable. NO Facebook; no Words with Friends or Dice Buddies (sorry, friends); necessary texts only; use of computer only for sending and responding to necessary emails, writing and homeschool purposes; one hour of television a day.

Sigh. I failed miserably. All texts became vitally important. And, movies don’t count as television, do they? How about watching the Colts beat the Broncos? My husband told me neither was “technically” television, and since I must submit to his leadership…Well, you know the rest of the story, folks. Then, before I realized it, I read someone’s blog post. Oops! I wasn’t supposed to do that. It reminds me of the few times (almost nonexistent, in fact) I’ve eliminated sweets from my diet and remembered right in the middle of eating a piece of chocolate cake. Unexplainably, however, the one area I did not cheat was Facebook even though 14 notifications taunted me.

So, what’s the point of all this besides realizing that I’m a failure at a full-blown media fast…and I’m not sure I really want to do this ever again?
Creating space for quiet, contemplation and communication is important. If I’m always plugged in, how can this possibly occur? When family moments are dominated by texting, viewing television and surfing the internet, true connection can’t happen. I’m just as guilty as my children at letting media distract me from truly being with people. When I hear the ding of a text message while conversing with my hubby, I’m distracted and driven to read it promptly. Finishing an email or reading an article on the computer becomes more important than my child’s concern. I too often let the media device displace the person present.

This week, I was less preoccupied with gadgets and more engaged with my family and friends. The Facebook world interacted without me, and quite honestly, I didn’t miss some of the emotions that rise from posted statuses, like political rants and inappropriate public displays of affection. And, since my status stayed silent, I didn’t intermittently pop on Facebook to check my “likes”.

This morning marked the end of my fast. Immediately, after clicking on Facebook and scrolling through the newsfeed, jealousy flashed like Fireworks on the 4th of July. While Facebook employs positive community elements, it also exacerbates a few emotions with which I struggle. This short absence from Facebook gave me a reprieve from the daily flaring of those ugly feelings.

The most significant lesson I grasped during this absence of media (except for my propensity to justify cheating), is the misplaced priority I’ve given to some modes. Because Facebook was removed from my diet, I looked for different ways to interact. I took opportunities to meet with local friends, and focus undistracted on my family. My multi-tasking excuse—I can play games on the Ipad, talk to my daughter, search the internet, and text brilliantly at the same time—becomes a poor attempt to rationalize time management. However, I realized that I haven’t handled my time well, because I am distracted.

So, what if I didn’t return to media as usual? What if I ignored my phone’s chirps in order to be present with people? What if I checked Facebook once a day instead of sporadically all day? What If I determined to control my time, not let the call of media waste it?

Jen Hatmaker writes, “But I think if we shut down some of the noise and static, we might find more God, more neighborly love, more family, more life. May we be only under the control of Jesus who fills our minds with hope and truth and grace unending.”

Are you ready to shut out some noise, and be present with your peeps? 

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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