No children were harmed in the making of this post.
Although my children seemed quite emphatically convinced that they may not survive five days with no media or internet, I am happy to report that my family is all alive and well –and perhaps even better for the experience
Opinions vary on the matter –as you can well imagine.
When our laptops needed repaired last week, I saw the opportunity and put my no media plan in place.
It had been in the back of my mind for years.
Now that they’re older, it seemed like a good idea.
I kept saying, “We’re going to live like it’s 1995,” so much so that now I think my children think that 1995 I was a horrible year!
What I learned about myself follows:
1) I tend to turn on a movie or social media when I’m overwhelmed instead of either addressing the issue that overwhelms me (if that’s possible) or praying about (it if addressing it is not possible).
2) Even with my notifications on Facebook set to very minimum I still received over 150 notifications in 5 days. That doesn’t account for email, WordPress posts, Instagram, or Pinterest. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it represents a lot of time –time that I could be used for other things.
3) There was no way I was prepared for five days without any internet. For instance, I use the internet for my Bible concordance, dictionary, medical inquiries, phone book, maps, dictionary, etc. In pre-smartphone times, I kept a phone book containing maps in my car. I had forgotten about this until I tried to find a house without internet. I gave up and just used my GPS. All our banking is online, and a few bills were due this week. My friends all use texting and instant messaging. So while this was a good exercise, it wasn’t practical. I called one friend and left a message on her voicemail. She replied my Facebook message. So not using internet was not really an option.
5) Book reading is very hard for me: it hurts my eyes. I didn’t know this before this week (I knew it was harder for me). Don’t ask me to explain the reason. By Wednesday, I had switch to reading online instead of my library books just to help my headaches.
6) My online world distracts me from what’s here and now. I’m constantly wondering what so-and-so is doing or if this person’s surgery is done and so I check Facebook. But that also means that I’m not present with my family, I’ve heard other people say that, but I didn’t get it until now. This will need to be altered in the future so my children don’t have to compete with social media for my time and attention.
6) I found plenty of things to do without the internet. I was worried because before we had the internet I filled my life with many activities that I cannot do now because of my physical limitations. I used to paint, garden, bake, scrapbook, ect. All those cause pain now. But, I can listen to the radio or an audiobook just as easily as watching Netflix or perusing Facebook.
7) My 3 hour IV doctor appointments are very boring without the internet. I had the joy of listening to three men debate politics down the way instead of being on the internet watching Netflix. Yeah me! (Not so much really.)
8) The upside to media is that it quiets the busyness in my brain (the ADHD –a million thoughts and ideas all that once), and it allows me to focus and calm. Without media it’s hard to have the same Brain Breaks. (Upon reflection, and after an hour or two with media again, I think no media can be overall calming depending on what’s going on around you. So the jury is still out on this.)
9) Even without media I can’t stop writing. I almost filled 100 pages in my spiral notebook in 5 days. I simply wrote blog posts out longhand for future use. My hands hurt though. because I’m not used to writing longhand like I used to. It strains my hands more than swyping or typing.
Here are four reasons I think a media fast is worth a try:
1) It forces you to find hobbies or rediscover them. Stalking people on Facebook isn’t really considered a hobby –or at least it shouldn’t be.
2) It allows you to reprioritize. Four of the five days, I was able to spend more time in prayer and Bible reading because that was the first thing I reach for each morning…instead of checking to see if my article for the day had posted properly on WordPress which is what I normally do. I spent more time with my family. We ate at the table, talking more instead of being in different rooms on our mobile devices watching TV
3) It shows you how much time, energy, and focus you actually spend online (our TV is actually online). This could be good or bad, but at least if you are aware of how you’re spending your time, you can adjust if you need to. I definitely plan to adjust the amount of time I spend online and plan to take more time away from media devices.
4) You learn that you can get other things done! We haven’t been to the library in years (mostly due to my health). I read five short books this week. I learned a bunch. We found the bottom of my sink for the first time in a while. We took a trip to the beach, and we learn to play a new game –all in five days.
Tomorrow, we have post that’s a tribute to moms, but Monday, we’ll continue our talk about a media fast, and see what my kids had to say about their media free week. I had fun interviewing them. Some of their responses were amusing and surprising. That tends to happen when you tell kids to be totally honest. Apparently, honesty is not a problem at my house.
Have you tried going media free for a short period? While I found it challenging, I also found it rejuvenating.