The last year or so, I have (as mentioned in my first ever post) been very put off by social media. Do I use it? Yes. Do I love it? Lately,not so much. You see I am a child of the last generation that grew up without all this tech. For kids, teens and young adults today, all the tech is the norm.(Ya know like color tv and VCRs were the norm for kids of my generation). I hear myself sounding like my parents once did (they warned me). I say things like “when I was your age, I didn’t have a phone that wasn’t plugged into a wall” or “you don’t need that gadget, it’s too expensive”, or “shut that thing off, you’re gonna rot your brain!”
We have major rules in this house about media use. No more than two hours total per day on all media. That includes DVDs (we have no cable), the Wii and computer use. (Unless there is a school project needing more research than our home and public library can provide). Our kids don’t have phones,(Not even the teenager) so texting and constant attachment to the cell isn’t an issue. I view this as I viewed pacifiers: don’t give them the chance to form the habit and you won’t have to drive yourself mad trying to break them of it.
There is a big reason we are so strict about media use. It’s not because we are behind in the times fuddy duddies with no concept of the “real world”. Quite the contrary. We believe the real world is what happens when the screens are no where to be seen. I saw a quote a few weeks ago that drives this point home. “You’ll never come to the end of your life and regret not having watched enough tv”. Well Amen. You know what you may regret? Not getting down on the floor with your kids and pretending to be a horse while they ride on your back. Not tickling them enough. Not reading to them. Not cooking with them. Not running, jumping and laughing enough with them. Not listening to them becasue you had to send one more text or read one more blog or like one more post. Not playing board games with your spouse. Not talking to them everyday. (Really talking not just texting). Not writing them love notes or making them feel like they are the most important adult person to you. When the phone is in your hand more than your guy or gal’s hand is in your hand, it’s a problem.
I realize the irony in me saying these things while sitting behind a screen. That is the paradox of our world. It’s how we can be heard now. It’s the platform from which people listen and love and share and fight and move forward. I can’t begin to imagine how different life would be, however, if for we all decided to go dark. Would you take this challenge? Would you put down the screens? Even for one day? One week? One month? More?
Last summer, I participated in the 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker, with my women’s group at church. The experiment was to abstain completely from 7 areas of life for one full week.(The author did 7 weeks for each area) This.Woke.Me.Up. The area that I struggled the most with was food. No brainer right? I am a foodie, amateur chef/baker and I read cookbooks as a hobby. We had to eat only 7 foods for 7 days. Brutal. Media was not much of a problem for me, however,abstaining from media opened my eyes to how much I used it and missed out on real life.
How often was I on the FB while drinking my morning coffee and missed something my husband said? How often was I responding to an email and half heartedly hugged one of my kids? How often did I chose a favorite tv show (thanks Netflix) over reading my bible? How often was I in a texting marathon while complaining I didn’t have enough hours in the day to get all the housework finished? The list goes on. I realized my fun and harmless little iPhone hobby was interfering in the quality, connection and experience of my life.
Did I really need to inform everyone of every move I made? Did the world really care that much about what I made for lunch everyday. Did I really need to pin 57 recipes when I have a cupboard filled to the brim with cookbooks? Was it necessary to share a hundred photos on Instagram when I could just have the photos for myself? These habits are fun and they are common but what are they truly doing for us? They are teaching us to go to our phones first when we should go to our people first. There’s a popular phrase: “moderation is key”. This is a truth that is being lost. We need to take stock and really pay attention to the people to tech ratio. If our time with people is not outweighing our screen time, we need to do something different. We need to find peace in the void of the electronics. You won’t die. I promise. People can live without your vast knowledge, beautiful pictures and wild opinions about everything for a bit.
If you find yourself to be a person of enormous integrity and just have to express or you may implode,then a break from media may be a good thing for you. If you tend to want to prove yourself to the naysayers and are a highly sensitive person who gets hurt if you are misunderstood, a break from media may be a good thing for you. If the state of the world and today’s modern society effects your spirit throughout the day to the point that you feel burdened, a break from media may be for you.
I say this not because I am trying to be Ms. Self righteous bossy-pants, but because I am all of the above and I have benefited from what I have come to call the media fast. In January of this year, I realized I was spending too much time on my iPhone. I decided my New Year’s resolution was going to be to axe the Words with Friends and Candy Crush and to take a one week break every month from all social media and texting. (Except for in emergencies or basic inquiries of course). I still checked my email once a day to stay in the know about our activities, however, media was not a forerunner of my day. No more fb marathons with my morning coffee. No more pinning for an hour a day. No more reading a dozen mommy, homeschooling, food blogs a day. No more Instagram. God and my family are first and I needed to act like it. I am not saying social media and the like is evil or bad, just that it doesn’t have the importance we have put on it. I enjoy peeking into my friend’s and family’s lives. Especially being so far away from my hometown. It helps me to stay connected. However, I don’t want that connection to become priority over real time connection.
I am passionate about my family and I want to show them that they are the priority. We can say this with our mouths but when we put our media needs ahead of them how are we showing them that? We must be ok with just sitting in silence with each other, listening to a book being read,a song being sung, eating a meal, playing a game or going on a date without feeling the need to always post to fb about it. We must be ok just laughing at something someone said or agreeing heartily with them instead of just liking something they posted. If we don’t, we will end up not really knowing each other. We will end up knowing only diet versions of each other. I don’t know about y’all but I want the full fat version of life! During the time we aren’t media socializing, think of the wonderful things we could be actually doing! We must become content and at peace in the void of media. There we will find true and REAL joy.