We Tried an Internet & TV “Fast”

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This summer my family and I decided to fast from internet and television for 7 days. What prompted this is nothing new. I know many have done the same sort of thing and blogged, vlogged, and wrote about it. It was our turn. Mostly, it went well. We cheated just a bit especially when my grandson wanted to watch an episode of his favorite show and I needed to get dinner cooked.

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Television and the world wide web are nothing all that new and now most humans have some sort of contact with them on a daily basis in varying degrees. Our family has, for the most part, always been choosy about how much time we spend on devices or in front of the television. We’re also quite restrictive about content we watch. So, taking a break from it wasn’t that big of a deal. (Sort of)

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The most surprising thing for me that week was how little I missed social media. As a matter of fact, by day 3 of zero mindless Fakebook, er, I mean Facebook, and Instagram scrolling, I felt clearer headed. Honestly, I didn’t give much thought to what I might be missing. It was refreshingly liberating. Strangely enough, I even felt more contented. Time seemed to slow down a bit.

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During our 7-day digital and screen-free off-grid adventure, I decided to do some research and reading up on the effects of internet and social media use. What I learned was shocking. (I’ll share this in the next post)

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Actually, it was spot on to what’s been nagging at my gut for years…or at least ever since I got hooked into smartphone usage and social media. I was all on board with the whole social media scene at first. As the years went on, I became suspicious of the platforms’ purpose. Oh sure, it’s obvious we’re being bombarded with advertisements. But there was just something more disturbing. I began to feel as if I’d been part of a very large social experiment. Honestly, I even felt I’d been brainwashed.

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I mean, come on. Admit it. Have you ever been in the middle of a precious moment with family or on a vacation and thought “oh, this would make a great Instagram post?” Or how many times have you felt mom guilt because you forgot to post a picture of your children on “national daughter’s or son’s day?” I’ve recently begun refusing to play along with the social media herd behavior. It feels so good to rebel against the digital world trends.

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One of the books I read was How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price. Please read the intro from the beginning of this book:

An Open Letter to My Phone

Dear Phone,

I still remember the first time we met. You were an expensive new gadget available only through AT&T; I was a person who could recite her best friends’ phone numbers from memory. When you were launched, I’ll admit that your touch screen caught my eye. But I was too busy trying to type a text message on my flip phone to start something new.

Then I held you in my hand, and things started moving fast. It wasn’t long before we were doing everything together: taking walks, having lunch with friends, going on vacations. At first it seemed strange that you wanted to come with me to the bathroom–but today it’s just another formerly private moment for us to share.

We’re inseparable now, you and I. You’re the last thing I touch before I go to bed and the first thing I reach for in the morning. You remember my doctor’s appointments, my shopping lists, and my anniversary. You provide GIFs and festive emoji that I can send to friends on their birthdays, so that rather than feeling hurt that I’m texting instead of calling, they think, “Ooh, animated balloons!” You make it possible for my avoidance strategies to be construed as thoughtfulness, and for this I am grateful.

Phone, you are amazing. I mean that literally: not only do you allow me to travel across time and space, but I am amazed by how many nights I’ve stayed up three hours past my bedtime staring at your screen. I can’t count the times we’ve gone to bed together and I’ve had to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming—and believe me, I want to be dreaming, because ever since we met, something seems to be messing with my sleep. I cannot believe all of the gifts you’ve given me, even though many of those gifts are technically things that I bought for myself online while you and I were “relaxing” in a bath.

Thanks to you, I never need to worry about being alone. Any time I’m anxious or upset, you offer a game or newsfeed or viral panda video to distract me from my feelings. And how about boredom? Just a few years ago, I’d often find myself with no way to pass the time other than to daydream, or maybe think. There were even times when I’d get into the elevator at the office and have nothing to look at but the other passengers. For six floors!

These days, I can’t even remember the last time I was bored. Then again, I can’t remember a lot of things. Like, for example, the last time my friends and I made it through a meal without anyone pulling out a phone. Or how it felt to be able to read an entire magazine article in one sitting. Or what I said in the paragraph above this one. Or whose text I was looking at right before I walked into that pole.

Or whatever. My point is, I feel like I can’t live without you.

And that’s why it’s so hard for me to tell you that we need to break up.”(excerpt from How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price, published 2018)

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I have so much more to say about the research I’ve done on internet and social media usage. This post is the first of more to come on the subject. For all the wonders we thought the World Wide Web brought to our lives, there came with it a high cost. That cost has robbed our lives of so much.

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I’ll stop here. I’ll share some disturbing stats in an upcoming post.

If you had the intact attention span to actually read this whole post then #1-send me a text or email letting me know. #2- sign up on my blog to get future posts. #3-Share this post on your social media account(oh, the irony) and I’ll send you a free copy of Catherine Price’s book.

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