This is the third year that I’ve organized activities in my neighborhood to celebrate Digital Detox Week (which used to be TV Turnoff Week), and the first time I’ve actually felt a need to change my daily activities because of it. We still don’t have a television, but over the past year I’ve spent more time reading blogs and also joined Facebook. I won’t be doing that between April 19 and April 26. First I thought of this as setting a good example, since I’m encouraging other people (who have a digital fixation that seems obvious to me) to try the electronics fast. I think I may need it for more personal reasons as well.
I do see value in the things I do online--I’ve reestablished contact with some long-lost friends and relatives through Facebook, and actually gotten into substantive correspondence with a few of them; I’ve read blog posts that have challenged, reassured and clarified me. But I also find myself slipping online to stuff an inner emptiness--to paper over loneliness, to distract myself from dissatisfaction, fatigue, the knowledge of failure or other uncomfortable realizations. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter, I’m not doing anything really mindless or destructive...but stuffing that emptiness is inherently destructive. In that emptiness I am dis-illusioned, cast out of the imaginary securities that I construct for myself, and forced to know again my dependence on God. In that emptiness the still small voice may speak to me. From that emptiness I return to my work and my community, less grasping, less confused, more ready to give and receive truly.
So I hope to come back from the fast week with a greater mindfulness about my real purpose in my online time. If any of the rest of you are trying a media fast, I’d be interested in hearing about why you’re doing it or what you learn from it--after I come back.