Have you ever lost the power to your home? Over the years this has occasionally happened to my wife and I. During those times I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself walking through the house flipping on the light switches, only to quickly remember that the power is out. In the Midwest, where we live, losing power can be either inconvenient – no air conditioning in the summer, or very serious – losing heat in the winter.
We have our phone (yes, we still have a landline), internet and television service all through one provider. Yesterday (as I write this), all three were down for the entire day, making for a very strange day indeed. We needed to call technical support, but had to look at a bill to get the phone number (instead of just googling it). Where’s the old yellow pages when you need them! On top of that, I couldn’t access my email on my phone, nor any of my apps. It was really a screenless Saturday!
My usual morning routine is to check email and social media, making a few posts on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In while having my morning coffee. It was when I tried to do that yesterday that I found out that our internet was down. So, I used that time to enjoy some nice time reading Steve Robinson’s excellent new book Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand. Overall, throughout the day, I would get more than half of the book read. Later, I did my devotional and Bible reading as usual while riding our exercise bike. My wife was studying the book of Judges – but couldn’t do any online research or use biblegateway.com for various versions of the Bible and for commentaries. Kindle to the rescue!
Our television being down created some other issues, as I wasn’t able to watch the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament being played at the Pebble Beach Golf Club in California. My wife Tammy and I had attended the U.S. Open when it was played at Pebble Beach in 2010, and I enjoyed watching the first two rounds and the beautiful course we had walked. But there would be no U.S. Open for me on my screenless Saturday. I’m just glad that my favorite player, Tiger Woods, wasn’t in contention. If he had been, we would have had to find a place to watch the tournament. Of course, with the television being down, I didn’t get to watch the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game against the New York Mets either.
It was really strange to think about how our lives have come to revolve around our screens. I didn’t get any national news or Twitter updates throughout the day. I didn’t check Facebook or Linked In. And you know what? I survived. When our internet came back on today, I saw that I really hadn’t missed anything. Although some people intentionally take a break from social media, my break wasn’t planned.
We ended up going to a movie (Men in Black International) and going to the local movie rental store (for the first time in years) and rented the DVD Blindspotting, neither of which we enjoyed all that much, so I guess our day wasn’t completely screenless. We didn’t know what was happening in the news and the streets were very quiet. We wondered if the rapture had happened (we need an app for that) and somehow we missed it (FOMO: Fear of Missing Out).
God wants us to make good use of the time He has given us. There are many things in life that can distract us from what truly matters, and spending a lot of time on screens and social media would certainly be one of them.
So, what did I learn from our mostly screenless Saturday? I was given a new realization on just how dependent I have grown on technology (internet, apps, television, social media). We grew up just fine without any of them but have quickly become reliant on them. I also learned that going back to a good old-fashioned book (even if it is read on a Kindle screen) might not be a bad way to compensate.
Perhaps you can do something similar this summer while on vacation. Consider going off social media and just enjoy spending time with the people you are with.
Have you done a social media sabbatical yourself? Why or why not?