Like a giant boa constrictor, weaving itself up and around my body until it tightens to crush and suffocate me, a culture of constant connectedness through the Internet is threatening to do the same in my life.
Research indicates the detrimental effects of our Internet culture, including an inability to concentrate, loss of “deep thinking”, and addictive traits such as “needing” to check email and/or Facebook every 15 minutes. I can identify with each of these effects. Additionally, much time has been wasted and lost while I am content to “swim in the shallows and pass the time with passing the time” (DeYoung, 82). Finally, in our Internet culture, I/we are never alone as illustrated in this summarized analogy from William Powers’ book Hamlet’s Blackberry:
“Powers likens our digital age to a gigantic room. In the room are more than a billion people. But despite its size, everyone is in close proximity to everyone else. At any moment someone may come up and tap you on the shoulder- a text, a hit, a comment, a tweet, a post, a message, a new thread. Some people come up to talk business, others to complain, others to tell secrets, others to flirt, others to sell you things, others to give you information, others just to tell you what they’re thinking or doing. This goes on day and night…a ‘non-stop festival of human interaction’.” He continues, “we enjoy the room immensely- for a while. But eventually we grow tired of the constant noise. We struggle to find a personal zone. Someone taps us while we’re eating, while we’re sleeping, while we’re on a date. We even get tapped in the bathroom, for crying out loud. But no one else seems to know where the exit is. No one else seems interested in leaving. In fact, they all seem put off that you might not want to stay. And even when you find the exit and see the enchanting world through the opening, you aren’t sure what life will be like on the other side. It’s a leap of faith to jump out and see what happens.” (DeYoung, 83)
Fighting the Snake
As mentioned in previous posts, the Lord has been teaching me much about how to order my days by considering personal mission, guiding principles, and identification of life focuses. The book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman has been instrumental. Fighting the “Internet snake” is not just a practical issue, but also a deeply spiritual one.
Jesus lived long before iPhones, Facebook, wireless, and email. Yet, He was constantly inundated by crowds, and sought out everywhere He went. However, Jesus had a key strategy to deal with the “constant taps” in his life:
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 6:15-16, emphasis mine)
Jesus intentionally pulled Himself away to seek His Father. He kept this as His priority. I must do the same to grow in holiness, knowledge, and usefulness to Him. I must intentionally disconnect and allow time to think, reflect, study, and pray.
Even though I have implemented a few countermeasures to constant connectedness over the years, such as turning off my work email in the evenings and weekends, getting rid of my smart phone, and journaling, there is more I need to do in order to gain better control in this area of my life. While still considering specific steps, a few that have come to mind include:
- Designating a weekly internet free day at home
- Limiting the number of items that appear in my Facebook feed and number of subscribed blogs
- Turning off my phone occasionally to minimize distractions
- Leaving my iPad at home or off more often, especially when getting together with family or friends
- Only checking my email a few times a day, rather than “100 times” I currently check it.
I will probably identify others. What ideas do you have or have put into place to release the snake’s choke hold on you?
May we all fight hard in this area, for God’s glory and His work in and through our lives!
Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem.
Powers, William. Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.