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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!