8 Things I Learned From a Five Day Media Fast

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Due to screen time I failed to brush the dogs which led to these embarrassing “puppy cuts.”

To be honest, I can’t even remember what made me decide to take five days away from screen time.

Maybe it was the binge watching of horse rescue videos I did over the holidays or the brain fog I was experiencing that left me with nothing but opinionated political commentary on my mind (none of it worth sharing).

I’d also spent hours on ANCESTRY.COM researching my family — I come from royalty which is pretty interesting — but what a time suck. The info I need to start my next book I found maybe one hour into doing my tree so I couldn’t even use research as an excuse for hours discovering people’s parents. I also fooled myself into believing that I hardly spent any time on INSTAGRAM posting pictures and scrolling.

Anyway, I announced to my husband that I’d be fasting and picked 5 as the number of days for no real reason.  I had one last binge on horse rescues, closed the laptop and went to bed pretty confident that the fast would be easy since I used the computer and phone less than the rest of the family.

Turns out I was being a bit arrogant on this one. Here’s what I found out (probably it won’t be much of a surprise but I thought I’d document it anyway):

  1. I was blaming ticks and Lyme Disease for some symptoms that may have been more related to screen time. I don’t know if this happens to you but just looking at a screen for a little while leaves me feeling depressed. A vague sense of despair  unrelated to just watching horse rescue stories always follows screen time. It doesn’t matter what I watch or read on-screen. I think maybe it’s due to chasing the initial high of imagining that all knowledge and happiness will be discovered somewhere on the internet.
  2. I was frequently annoyed (or actually angered) by people who interrupted me when I was watching the horse videos (or news, or reading blogs or even scanning Craigslist junk sales).  I mean, please — stop talking! I’m looking at cinder blocks here! When I couldn’t watch videos or surf or look up answers to dumb questions I actually had a lot more patience with our new daughter who always wants to play checkers or, you know, bond with another human.
  3. Those quick checks of email — turns out they weren’t that quick. And even when they were, they caused me to lose 10 minutes of focus — what was I going to do again? When I realized that I couldn’t check my email before supper, I actually made better supper — or just cleaned some of the kitchen clutter which made me surprisingly happy.
  4. With no electronics I felt much less harried. I had noticed a trend in my farm work. Instead of enjoying a few quiet moments with my sheep and chickens I found that I was fretting about how much work I wasn’t getting done — mainly because my internet habit was actually taking up too much time but also because I was reading so many articles about marketing and how to better use my time and resources.  In short I was enjoying everything in my life less — and thinking (even though I know it’s false) that everyone was doing everything better than me.
  5. In five days I read 5 books without even trying. For the past year I’ve been blaming Lyme for my lack of reading too, but I was kidding myself. It was screen time.
  6. I need to get outside more! I realized that when I used to have goats I would take them out for walks and spend about an hour in the field writing books, but with the sheep (since they respect fencing) I neverreally needed to walk them. The goats kept me away from the screen since at the time I didn’t have a smart phone.
  7. SCREEN TIME ROBBED ME OF CREATIVITY! After only one day without the screen in my face I had more ideas for not only writing but also for  life in general — yeah, I do want to rescue a horse and open my farm for therapeutic visits with the animals.  Without the screen time I  had more energy to go for walks where ideas tend to flow for me. I kept the phone at home because I realized that even nature had become just something to manipulate for Instagram. For Christmas my son got me a great dip pen set (that’s how I wrote MY FIRST BOOK) and instead of rushing to the computer to tap my ideas out I returned to writing the way I had enjoyed in the past and — you guessed it — I was far more productive.
  8. On a spiritual note, the fast invigorated my interest in the divine nature of things and the pursuit of  God’s voice which had been crowded by hunting down significance online. I woke up early, read the Bible and a ton of DWIGHT L. MOODY and felt good to go.

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So you may be wondering what I plan to do with this little bit of self-knowledge. I’m wondering too. I raced back to the computer to see what I had missed in five days and was disappointed that the world hadn’t changed much and that I hadn’t received any life changing reviews or emails. I missed some blogs and vlogs for sure, but I really have to see if I can have some restraint going forward.

How about you? Do you ever get sucked into the vortex? Have you ever considered a media fast? If not, how do you keep your head above water? I’d love to know in the comments!

 

Related reading:

THE SOCIAL MEDIA FAST

SELF REFLECTION AND GROWTH

WHAT A MEDIA FAST IS LIKE

 

29 Comments Add yours

  1. Oo, this is so good, so thoughtful and reflective. After all of these years with a computer/laptop, smart phone I am still stunned by what a time suck the Internet can be. Is this what alien abductees mean when they describe ‘lost time?’ “How can it be 1:30 I was just noon???” Boy, it shakes me up and then I do what you do and take some time off. But never 5 days. That is really impressive!

    I relate to your 4, 6 and 7, especially. Recently, I cut the cord and no longer have tv. I have been wanting to do that for awhile. Not that I watch it a lot, but that it’s too expensive for how little I watch it. But still…no tv? But the days seem longer, I am more in my thoughts and rely more on internal stimulation than external. At first I was on my laptop more, but surprisingly, I got bored! I do go outside more, especially at night and I do read more, listen to music, write, ponder and clean (yeah, this last one is weird)!

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    1. Lol. I feel bored on the computer but if I’m not careful i end up endlessly searching for something not boring!

      I gave up tv a while back and for a few blissful years I was away from the screens — until I decided to publish my books. It started so innocently but quickly got out of hand. 😉

      It’s such a great feeling when you suddenly find yourself again after over-stimulation. Isn’t it amazing that 5 days actually feels like a real sacrifice?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok and btw, those dogs….in love ❤

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      2. They are a couple of cuties. Cavaliers are the best breed ever!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ksbeth says:

    So good to do and to reflect on. I do feel very sucked in at times, and I need to try this

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    1. If you’re like me you’ll be shocked by how different life is without it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ksbeth says:

        I have absolutely no doubt that I would

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  3. Hmm fascinating observations. My sister-in-law has a ‘tech basket’ lol at her time of choosing the preteens tech is switched off and goes in the basket!! The only who’s really annoyed is my brother 😀

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    1. Yeah, we tried giving the kids tokens for electronic use when they were young. My son would go through all of his in one day and then curl up into a ball for a week. Sad.

      But sadder still are the adults (like me) who think we are immune to the addictions kids face today 🙂 I realize that there’s something comforting about watching the screen –which is why it’s hard to give up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s little point going through life being sad is there, balance and moderation are the two words that come to mind 🙂 .

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  4. Lily Pierce says:

    Great points. Scrolling through social media drains way more time than you’d think! “Just checking” can easily morph into 20 minutes of scrolling.

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    1. I love/hate instagram because it’s so pretty yet so mindless. LOL. I do really enjoy trying to find the perfect gif for responding to texts — but insanely time consuming for only the smallest laugh. Some kill me though. LOL.

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  5. I totally agree with you on number seven. Oh my, if I had those cute little dog faces looking at me, I’d never want to look at a boring screen!

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    1. I split my time between the screens and the dogs — this leaves little time for anything else. LOL.

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  6. candidkay says:

    I try hard on many weekends to stay off of my computer. Because my work during the week involves me being on it so much, I do notice some of the symptoms you mentioned. I can’t wait until there is more balance to my days. It sounds like you will have more balance in the days to come just because you’ve raised your awareness.

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    1. Even though I KNOW what I should do doesn’t mean I will. LOL. I will have to get back to you on that. It was weird to still want something but at the same time feel peace for not engaging in the behavior.

      Here’s to more balance in both our lives!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It does pull us in. I haven’t done a fast yet — largely because the work I do comes in via email. But I have of late been making a concerted effort to limit all forms, as so many things go undone when I let myself get pulled in. So “brava” for your five days — I’m going to see if I can’t try harder.

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  8. Annika Perry says:

    Adrienne, first I have to say how much I adore your special pen and what an well-thought present. You wrote a whole book with one?! Well, here is to another book waiting to be written.

    I’m so happy you enjoyed your media fast! As you know I have a break over summer … sometimes for five weeks as we spend time in Sweden with no internet, tv and barely mobile signal. My main worry at first was missing out and losing out on blogging, but find everybody most understanding. The benefits are just as you describe, seeing and interacting with nature more intently, return of natural creativity, interaction with others in a calm and unhurried manner. As for reading, I can’t wait for those weeks to devour books, often ten to twenty during the time there! It really is all about balance, which is something we often forget! Happy future media fasting!! 😀🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your summers sound amazing. Isn’t it funny that the world continues on without us? I spent a summer with just my two young children fixing up an old farmhouse in Cork Ireland years ago. We had no car and no electronics at all and it was a wonderful time. We read every night and worked outside all day. So many great memories.

      My step daughter and I have a real love for animals and did everything together once we got the farm but as soon as she got her own phone (which we were opposed to) she disappeared into the online world. Now I understand how easy it is.

      My son outdid himself with the Christmas gifts this year (and last when he bought me chimes). he will make a really great husband some day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Annika Perry says:

        Cork and the surrounding area is wonderful and I’ve visited many times on business … I can well imagine the sheer wonder of those carefree days, away from technology. I am sure your daughter will return from her phone with time … in the end I’ve seen many of the young people quite happy to put them aside, to really communicate and see the world again. Lovely to ‘chat’. xx

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  9. cricketmuse says:

    FOMO is real. I can go all day and not touch my phone. As soon as it is after work, I check it every 20 minutes, as an excuse if students are contacting me, but I wander around for 10 minutes checking insignificant sites as well. Fasting is indeed healthy.

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    1. Yes! I used to bring books with me everywhere I went but now I sit in doctor’s offices with the phone just wasting time on scrolling thru the UK Mail. lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m quite a bit older than you but we’re both old enough to remember the TIME BEFORE. The time before computers and smart phones (I still don’t own one, and am happy about this) and blogs and videos, and Facebook – and all of those myriad distractions that take us away from interacting with people, from self reflection, from pausing to appreciate and wonder. I’ve always thought that creativity stems from multiple sources, one being time to daydream. All the techie-digi stuff robs us of that kind of time – it fills us with empty calories. (Ooooh – TastyKakes! Broccoli – noooo!)

    Truth is, I’d love to give up my blog. It takes way too much of my time for very little reward – hardly anyone reads my blog, fewer comment except for the spammers who love me. I started to blog and I maintain it because I was told I need an on-line presence if I want any chance of getting traditionally published – so I keep on keeping on.

    I wouldn’t dismiss the Lyme disease effects, but a better use of time results in more stuff getting done. For me, it’s flash mobs – love them. Would love to wake one morning and find a flash mob tap dancing down my street. And then the morning is gone and – oh yeah, it’s 10:45 AM as I type, and I had lots planned for today.

    Take care, Adrienne. Always enjoy your posts.

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    1. I like flash mobs too. I even watch this one vlog where a young lady reads the Bible and does housework (as fur balls float around my feet). LOL. it’s an uplifting channel but I can’t believe how much I like watching other people vacuum.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re so right , Adrienne… it’s easy to lose your connections to what’s really important- and those doggies are so doggone cute !

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    1. I’m going to come up with a plan to minimize screen time by doing a search on how to minimize screen time. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Adrienne: A meta-study utilizing several databases maybe ? 😀

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      2. This made me laugh out loud. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 🙂 I’m so glad ! 🙂

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