a week unconnected

Last week I did a week-long social media fast and it was everything I hoped it would be and more! Inspired by Andy Crouch's excellent book The Tech-Wise Family, I'd like to make this an annual thing, along with one day each week of complete smartphone freedom. For anyone feeling the tug to disconnect from their phones, specifically social media, I can't recommend it enough. Here's what I learned:

  1. I am addicted to my phone and you probably are too.

    There, I said it. When I didn't have my favourite apps to check (Feedly for blog reading, Instagram for inspiration and social connection, Whatsapp for gabbing with my girls) I would still unconsciously grab my phone to check them. My hand would just go to my phone during even a minute of free time. When I woke up and many times throughout the day I found myself reaching for my favourite apps even though I knew I was taking the weeks off. I'm addicted! Here's a little test to see if you're addicted to your phone... take it if you dare! I did and it told me what I already know...
  2. The time I spend on social media takes me away from the people and habits that matter most.

    This was a hard realization, especially this summer when I've been with my never-napping kids from about 7am-10pm, all day, every day. It's one thing if I'm using up my own time to kick back and enjoy some of the many benefits that social media offers (and I do believe there are many, especially for moms with young kids!!), but it's quite another when being on social media takes me away from real life quality time with my family, or the disciplines and habits I care most about cultivating (early bedtimes, using my time wisely, getting chores done, reading my Bible daily, reading various other books daily, etc.) When I didn't have the option to be on social media last week, those other areas in my life flourished! Waking up early to be in the Word was actually spent in the Word, not quickly sidelined by checking e-mail or Instagram. Being with my kids meant they had my undivided attention - no buzzing notifications to interrupt me.
  3. Social Media shapes my contentment and I need to be careful with it.

    I love social media and won't be quitting anytime soon, but I know I need to be careful about what images and ideas I'm allowing free reign on my mind and heart. I follow around 300 people on Instagram and every single one is carefully considered. I follow friends who I love and want to keep up with, I follow strangers who inspire me in a multitude of ways (whether it's their creativity, their cooking skills, their parenting wisdom, their faith journey, their shared interests with mine - travel, urban living, literature, or simply their artistic expression in photography. But there was a time when I followed a lot of accounts that led to me feeling jealous, discontent, or judgemental. After a week away, I deleted many more accounts because I had a fresh perspective on how those images were shaping me and I wanted to clear things out. I highly recommend regularly purging your follow list!
  4. Real life is 100% better, every time.

    Here's the tricky reality for me - My closest friends and all of my family all live at least 7 hours away by car, if not plane rides away. To say that I don't need social media to connect with these precious people and to easily share my life with them would be nonsense. That said, I've often spent so much time connecting with my friends online and relying on those relationships to encourage me, fill my tank, and meet my needs at the expense of the relationships I have right in front of me in my own city. Last week our family was at Family Camp at Camp des Bouleaux and we were surrounded by new people for the whole week. We dove into those new friendships and had deep and meaningful conversations every hour. Now that I'm home and keeping up with those new friends on Instagram I see such a stark contrast of what real life vs. Instagram provides. Real life is better! The dept of those connections can't be reproduced, though of course we'll try.
  5. Old school communication is so meaningful!

    One of the women I grew close with last week at Family Camp isn't on social media at all. At first I was baffled, "Oh... so, I guess we won't be able to keep in touch very much", I offered when she told me this. Her reply was so obvious, but to someone entrenched in the online world, I guess I couldn't see it: "We'll have the kids become pen pals! And when's your birthday so I can send you a card? And lets plan a road trip girls weekend! And we can always text or call!"... right. Sure, it would be nice if she had Instagram so I could see her and her sweet kids every day, but this forces me to lean into old school communication that actually requires I get off the couch and to the post office, and causes my children to put real effort into cards and drawings for their friends, not to mention the anticipation and joy that comes from receiving mail. 
The only downside to putting my apps and phone away for the week was that I didn't always have my phone to take pictures. Most of my pictures on Instagram and this blog are taken with my smartphone, which I never had on me during my fast. I did manage to take the picture above of the setting sun on our last night up in Grand Remous, Quebec, and maybe that's all I needed to take in the end. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous30.7.18

    This is a great post. Appreciate the honesty and wise perspective. Very well said. You are not alone.

    I highly recommend reading Neil Postman's Technopoly and/or Amusing Ourselves to Death, as well as Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society. The latter is more philosophical and heavy, but both were/are almost prophetic in what they wrote, and either way, very thought-provoking especially in our tech-heavy culture.