(Warning!!!! This is a long post that may change your life, so you probably shouldn't read it.) Just kidding…. but it is long:)
A couple months ago, I decided to take a week long fast from all forms of technology. This came after many months of struggle, and a slow fade into wasting more and more time online, with less and less of a purpose. I never realized how much of an impact the internet and technology has on us, until I decided to live without it for a week. Over the course of the week I was amazed by how much more time I had to use for things I had been wanting to get done, but been putting off for quite a while. I was able to spend a lot more time than usual with God, and my family, and found myself not missing my iPad at all. As a result of the week offline, I learned quite a few new things, about my relatonship God, and my desires, and how those were being displayed in my daily life. I'd like to share a few of the things I learned that week with you all, not as an expert, but as an encouager.
One of the first things that got me thinking about taking a internet fast was Michael Hyatt's podcast entitiled, "What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains." ( I would encouage you to listen to the podcast)
This podcast had a profound affect on my mind, and caused me to think about my own use of the internet. I think the thing that affected me the most from the podcast was the realization of how much time the interenet is used every day. According to the statistics Michael shared, the internet is used by the average person about 8 hours a day. Another startling statistic was when Michael shared that in 2007 there was no such thing as an iPhone. Now after only 7 years, our world has changed in more ways than we can imagine. Over 500,000,000 (that's million) people of all ages arround the world now basically don't know how to live without their iPhones. They're used (instead of our brains) to look up every possible amount of information known to man. Now people hardly know how to get up,or go to bed without checking thier phones; And the average teen now sends over 4000 texts a month. (and that's not counting social media chatting)
With this in mind I'd like to quote from Michael Hyatt's podcast."Perhaps the scariest revelation is what is happening to our brains. New brain scan technology shows our brains are being completely rewired. Heavy web users have fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes. The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. Even worse, Chinese researchers have shown that our grey matter, the part of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotions, sensory, and other information, is shrinking or atrophying. So if you think you’re getting stupider or dumber by using the Internet, as it turns out you might be."
Clearly there is a problem with the way we use the internet. It is not just a simple, harmless tool, it's a dangerous addictve tool, that can harm our bodies physically and spiritually. And I know that the above quote is not far fetched because I've experienced the affects of the internet on my own brain in my own life. I've had my share of days spent on my iPad just "looking up one more thing." And even though the things I'm looking up are things I might actually "want" to do, they're usually keeping me from things I "need" to do. And I usually leave my iPad after those days feeling like I wasted lots of time, and got nothing done.
After hearing Michael Hyatt's podcast, I also read a blog post from a freind of mine in which she shared her journey of leaving all forms of social media, even though she had hundreds of followers. In her post Charlotte explained that she had realized how her desires, and passions were focused more on social media than on God. She shared how she opened up several social media accounts, and within a few months, she was a social addict who would spend hours on end "liking, posting, following, sharing,etc." And then she began to follow other girls who did the same thing, and before she knew it, she was so ingrosed in self centeredness that she "didn't have" to spend time with God.
At this point I think I'd like to quote part of Charolotte's post. "I realized that my self-promotion and idle chatter on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest were all drawing me further from Christ and that Incorruptible Beauty we are called to reflect. I was empty with the world's pleasures and desires, when I should have been full of Christ. It was truly heart-wrenching. Not in the sense that I had to leave all my attachments behind, but that I had been putting something so worthless (Social Media) before the most priceless gift in the world, Jesus Christ. I decided that from that time forward I would take a sabbatical from my social accounts until I coulddiscover how I could increase Christ and decrease my worthless self through it. It has been a huge blessing so far, though also a struggle in finding out how to spend my time more wisely and to God’s glory and service."
Charlotte's post really convicted me as I sensed in my own heart the loss of time I could have spent with God. I know all too well what happens when I put my focus on myself instesad of Christ. After this I was determined that I needed to change my own habits of social media, but I had one more step in my journey before I got to my week long fast. (Please read the rest of Charlotte's post here. http://boyerfamilysingers.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-i-quit-social-media.html )
A couple years ago, I picked up a small booklet at a homeschooling conference entitiled "Biblically Handling Technology and Social Media."
I hadn't read it. But when I was cleaning out my bookshelves one day, I came across the booklet, and began reading..... "Take a moment to consider life without computers or the internet." ...."That's not possible" I thought, and turned the page to read.... "What if we were as addicted to staying connected to The Lord as we are to technology?"
Now I was getting a little convicted, but still determined to not be affetced by it, I again turned the page to read...." An important turth to keep in mind is Satan's world system. If something is quickly embraced by the culture, it will have worldly entrapments attached to it that are well disguised." "That's enough!" I thought, as I attempted to close the booklet. But my eyes caught the words on one of the last pages which read...."Consider fasting from media for 3-7 days. Take this time to pray and refocus on The Lord." Within moments, I knew that's what I had to do. I knew my heart needed to readjust and refocus on Christ, and that wasn't going to happen online. And so began my week long fast from the internet.
During this week, I found several new reasons to be greatful for life, and found myslef enjoying the simple things I'd usually overlook. Getting to make breakfast for the family, spedning hours in the Bible, reading books, talking on the phone with friends, (instead of emailing them) and finding time to finally re-organize my room. (Something I had been wanting to do for months)
I had been praying about social media and online interaction for a while before I took this fast, and over the course of the week I began to realize that those questions we're being answered from Scripture.
Should I go on more social media outlets? Am I missing meeting people by not being on there? Is there people I'm supposed to be encouaging but can't because I'm not on these sites?
As I beagn to ponder these questions I began to realize that the focus of all of the questions was "me." What did I want, what did I think I needed. And even if I wasn't going to actually promote myself, I was still looking to these venues to satisfy needs within myself. Needs which only Christ can satisfy.
Acts 17:21 says " (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)" And the chapter goes on to explain that they didn't even know who God was anymore, becuase they had confused Him with their idols.
So what is the purpose of social media, and the internet in general? I think it can be accuately summarized as a place to hear or tell some new thing. But we know from Ecclessiastes that there is nothing new under the sun, and so the internet becomes a recycling container of all sorts of good and evil, decomposing to create a mediocre world filled with "o.k." things. But is that even possible? Is there such a thing as o.k. without good and evil?
Mark 7:18-23 says. "And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
From this passage we see that the heart of man is the source of evil, because the heart can be decieved. Which is why the Bible says we need to gaurd our hearts with all diligence, and not allow it to carry us astray. So, why dod we seek to promote ourselves and futher our own "kingdoms"when we're online?And why do we allow oursleves to dot hings online we never would do in person? For example, we wouldn't call a guy every day of the week, just to see how he's doing. That would be inapproriate. (unless we were related to him somehow) And we wouldn't make friends with people we don't even know and tell them all about ourselves. But we do online. Why? because we disconnect our online life from reality. We think we're able to be diffferent online, and it's ok. And the focus of being online is ourselves. We seek validation, and satisfaction, and somehow the more followers we have, the better we feel, and the more people that "like" our stuff the more successful we are.
But step back with me for a minute, and take a look at life without the internet. What would you do? who would you be? who would you be freinds with? What would matter? How would you spend your time? The answers to these questions are the reality in which we live but choose to ignore. We do what matters mostly offline, (i.e. spending time with God, friends, and family) We are what we do as a result of our character, and we are only good friends with about 10-20 people. (and that's even stretching it a bit)
With this in mind, I'd like to close by challenging you to take a step back to reality this week.
~ Redeem the time you have left by spending it with the people that matter most. Eph 5:15-16
~ Use every moment to honour God and further His kingdom purposes. Rom 12:2
~ Choose to be radically different for the sake of Christ.1 John 2:15-17
~ Pursue holiness Prov 9:10
~ Show honour to those in your physical presence Phil2:3
~ Check for pride, lust and other works of the flesh Gal 5: 19-21
~ Seek to walk in the spirit, and honour God with all you do Gal 5:22-25
For further reading please check out these links-