I decided to dedicate one day to “no technology.” I give myself a B for my efforts.
Maybe a B+.
I’ve done it a few times now. The reason is because I am increasingly “plugged in.” I got my first taste of always-on-the-button when I worked at Queen’s Park and was given a first-generation blackberry.
I also vaguely remember my dad telling me how he was once offered a laptop at work. For free. He refused it, saying, ‘Why would I want that? They’ll just want me to work from home for free.’
That’s wisdom and foresight!
I take Saturdays and Mondays off. So a few Mondays ago I decided to make it a no-technology day. These days as a Pastor I am very plugged in. From email to blogs to Twitter to Facebook and beyond. It’s how many of us connect. This is where a lot of people spend their time.
Portals to hopes, disasters and dreams.
Even so, I’ve found it’s important to step back. Why? Because these inputs can invade our home. A guest who turns into a squatter. If we don’t check the virtual guests at the door, they can push down the actual residents in priority sequence.
For me, blogging and engaging social media is a fun hobby of sorts—but if you don’t set boundaries, it’s like a red paint stain on your new white couch.
If you also count TV’s, telemarketers, regular phone calls and visitors, that makes a lot of distractions from having a healthy family-focused home.
So my day began: I woke up at 6am. That’s normal; it’s when the kids get up. I looked at the clock. Okay, right there I realized it wasn’t a total ban on technology. Clocks and mircowaves and stoves were in. Also, cars. It was my day off and we had plans to go for lunch.
The main challenge was—and is—with the internet. And I have the feeling that whenever I check my phone in the evening when my kids are watching I am somehow teaching them that what’s on that screen is more important than they are. Now I know that as a Pastor I am always ready to be called upon—but during family time those need-to-get-me things are really only serious crisis or death.
All other things can wait.
So I didn’t check email all day. I also didn’t check Facebook or Twitter or anything else. It was a strange feeling. I’m not addicted or anything like that, but I say ‘strange’ because these things are also a fun part of my routine, to be ‘in touch’ with people. In a society where we’re increasingly mobile and geographically separated, Facebook is the new front porch.
Nevertheless, I turned the blackberry off and put it in the drawer. No buzzing, beeping or ringing.
Funny thing: The more the day went on, the easier it got. And the more of these days I have, and the more I keep building them into my schedule, the more I realize something:
I find it easier to relax.
I’m able to get more perspective and remember what the important things are.
I stop worrying about what messages or problems await me over the wires.
I am more authentically present with my family.
I am happier.
I find more time to pray.
That’s a pretty great list.
One of the famous sayings of Jesus was “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Hmm. ‘Technology was made for people, not people for technology.’
I’ve come up with a few techniques to help. I put a piece of black tape over the little blinker on my phone to say there are new messages. Do I really need the reminder? When the evening starts I hide my blackberry. Out of sight, out of mind. I like to check with Facebook here and there to see what’s up. But in the grande scheme of things, I’ve discovered that I’m not that important. That sounds harsh, but here’s what I mean:
When it comes to being with my family at night and being interrupted, most emails and messages can wait for the next morning. There’s nothing more urgent and more vital that what I’m doing in the evening with my family. To keep kneeling down in homage to the screen borders on idolatry. Somewhere “Cats in the Cradle” is playing on a record…
Yes, the next day I had about 40 messages of various sorts. I don’t know if that’s a lot. A few blogs and email lists I’m on. A lot of run-of-the-mill stuff; a few other concerns or things that needed to be addressed in a day or two. A note from a friend. But nothing waranting a tornado response from yours truly. People call for urgent things. But you know what? At the end of the day, and at the start of the next one, I felt stronger.
More connected, not less.
No wonder God made rest a commandment. It’s about enjoying life; not getting punched out by it.
Pick a day—any day—and try a tech-free day with me!