Earlier this month, I finally made it to my first Social Media Breakfast here in Austin (not counting the one at SXSWi) and enjoyed hearing Maura Thomas founder of RegainYourTime.com talk about “Controlling Your Attention in the age of social media and digital convergence.”
One thing from that morning really stuck with me. It was the medical fact that our brains do not actually multitask – meaning they don’t do two things at once, they just switch between them. We can switch more quickly in our twenties, but when you get as old as I am, it slows down.
So, that was already in the back of my mind when my Bible study group started a new video series called Convergence about trading ‘religious’ for relational. The first episode we’ve watched was on spiritual practices, and fasting was part of that discussion.
I’ve never actually fasted in the traditional sense of foregoing food, and have to admit I’ve counted myself lucky to not have been part of a religion that practiced giving up things for Lent. I don’t think I’d be very good at it. If I try a diet where any particular food is off limits, I immediately seem to want that food more than I ever did before.
But, the professor being interviewed on the spiritual practices video mentioned that fasting doesn’t have to mean food. She said one of the hardest fasts she has ever done was to go without books for a time, and that another one was to go without technology. And that got me to thinking.
While being online is a part of my job, I find myself drawn to the Internet even more than that makes necessary. I often feel guilty about being on my laptop at home in the evenings, and sometimes my girl says something about it to me. Twittering the play-by-play of my life has become second nature, and I check Facebook on my phone all the time.
But, I’m about to have an opportunity to step away from the Internet. I’m calling it my technology fast. I’m not talking about going totally off-the-grid, but about not letting myself do Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, email or any other such online activity for a full week.
It’s similar to what church leaders in England recommended this past year around Lent, dubbing it a Carbon Fast (although that included television, which I may or may not include).
“It is a real reminder that life in the slow lane at least some of the time would have real benefits for our mental, emotional and spiritual health,” said the Bishop of Liverpool.
It’s not a new thing, either. I found this post from 2006 where a blogger sounding very much like myself, was planning to give up their computer use in the evenings to help them focus and renew.
Which is exactly the outcome I am hoping to see. I want to spend a little more time thinking about God, thinking about my family and recharging my soul.
It’s not gonna be easy, but I think it will help me return to what can become the echo chamber of social media with new ideas and more focus.
Image via Creative Commons by Noii.
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