In the spirit of Lenten self-discipline I’ve imposed a few rules on myself to govern my use of technology. I started these before Lent and plan to keep them after Lent, but they would be a good exercise for this season for anyone who feels the need to detach a little from the lure of the blue screen.
Why am I doing this?
1) I don’t want to feel like a ping-pong ball. When I’m checking my phone at will and randomly looking up info about whatever I happen to be thinking about at the moment, I feel scattered inside and distracted. Conversely…
2) I want to be present. No, I don’t want my children’s main memory of me to be me looking at my phone, but more than that I want to be present. I want to be present to my 1 year-old by crawling around on the floor with him because he’s really starting to play games and he’s so incredibly cute when he laughs and runs away. I want to be present to my 3 year-old by sitting down and drawing with her because that means a lot to her. I want to be present to my 6 year-old by really listening when he tells me something that matters to him (usually having to do with Legos or superheroes).
3) I want to read more. Right now my author is C.S. Lewis and my book is a collection of essays/lectures he wrote or gave. It’s been so refreshing to me. After that I want to read fiction, probably sticking with Lewis. It’s been so long and I have this suspicion that my soul needs it.
Now the rules:
#1 No internet at night. Period. Nighttime is my weakest time for scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, reading blogs or researching homeschool curriculum. Sleep is a much better use of that time. If I’m not ready to sleep, I can read or write. The one exception to this rule is when I work on our budget, which requires that I have our online account open (not very tempting to stay on the bank’s website, though).
#2 Check Facebook once each week (on the weekend, during the day). That’s it. It’s amazing how much does not happen in a week.
#3 Check email once each day. I usually check it in the morning.
So far, rather than these rules constricting me, they’ve been freeing. If I’ve already checked my email for the day, I’m not thinking of checking it again. Facebook can do its own thing all week while I go about my life. And sleeping more at night is helpful not only to me, but to my family in having a better-rested wife and mother.
I’m not, however, going to be a legalist about my rules. There will be nights here and there when I just need to escape to my happy place (currently the Sonlight curriculum website!). There will be times when I will need to check my email or Facebook more often. That’s fine. This is not a test to see how little internet I can survive on until I finally break down and binge. My hope for these rules is that it provides the structure I need to lead the life I know I want to live. That life has all things technological on the peripheral, serving me instead of the other way around.