A few months ago I read an intoxicating article in Fast Company magazine. It was about one Baratunde Thurston's 25 day journey away from the Internet. I was fascinated. How does someone leave the Internet?
Thankfully, he didn’t leave the piece to memoir status, he explained how if one should choose to leave the internet, how to do so in nine "easy" steps. I've been putting it off, but found a good time this month to do it. 25 days seemed like a train wreck of an idea to me so I put my toes in the waters and try it for 4 days. After all, I had successfully "unplugged for love" on Sundays to spend uninterrupted time with my family thanks to a beautiful prompting from one of my favorite designers/ blogger friends, Aedriel. How hard could a few more days be?
4 Days...No tweets, instagrams, updates, likes, pokes, plus one-ing, forwarding, attaching, posts, editing, sharing, pinning, scrolling….
I decided to do it because the “phone always in hand look” isn't very pretty in my opinion. My phone used to be a tool but lately, it has been making me a tool and I’m tired of it. I don't want that for me or my family or anyone near me!
I can be present in friendship with others. But it's more difficult when I'm absently thinking about something someone said who isn't anywhere near the conversation or relationship right in front of me.
I can love others in creative ways that don’t require prompting from Pinterest or the latest guru on whatever it is that we need to know. I have a brain. I just forget that sometimes.
My birthday will still be special if I'm not on Facebook. (This one was a tough one for me since my birthday happened during detox week. But you have to know that it ended up being one of the most memorable birthdays of my entire life. I'll never forget it. Even though there wasn't one tweet, post, or Instagram update to document any of it, it's richness will live through my memories and recollection of the events to my friends and family...who knew we'd get back to oral tradition/ storytelling being at the heart of who we are and how we thrive?!)
The last four days have been invigorating. I learned some things about myself.
1. I’m deeply creative. I used to think I was creative because of the amount of subject material that I input everyday. Input is one of my top strengths. If I were a mermaid, my name would be Ariel, and I would have rebuilt that grotto that was destroyed by her angry father. I collect things. Ideas. Beauty. Possibilities. I like putting things together that aren’t meant to be together. I like weird stuff. I like surprising stuff. I like to be caught up in wonder. All of these things, I am, without the internet.
2. I need mental space for creativity. The internet as wonderful and as helpful as it is, clouds the space. It crowds out originality. It winnows back the crazy ideas that are sometimes the best ideas.
3. I am powerful. I have always had heroes. I adore those who have mentored me over the years, especially those in higher education. Hugo Maggallanes, Zaida Perez, Rick Ryding. When I read Love Does or Kisses from Katie, I think to myself, I want to be like Bob or Katie when I grow up. Anne Lamott writes and speaks with a vulnerability/ honest/ transparency and freedom that unleashes powerful things in me. I'd like to have a small bit of her personality emulated in my life. However, when I back away from all of it, I can see that I have something to give that is valuable as well. I have a powerful influence living in me. And maybe, if Bob and Anne met me, I’d be their hero too. I’m sure of it. Because no two people can give the same thing. It’s just not possible. So, as I give. As I release the creativity God has given to me, specifically. I am able to do so much that it can’t even be measured or imagined or hoped for, it’s bigger than that, because Christ’s power is at work in me. I know this. It is true. (And it’s true for you.)
4. I am his. When I checked out of being checked-in for a few days (which I hope to do again at the end of the month). I see the reality for what it is. I am beloved. Everything I am is God’s. I am loved with a forever love that doesn’t relent in my life. There are no amount of followers, likes, retweets, public praise, or online adoration that can keep my heart. It is God’s love that lets me pour out everything I have. Investing my life is an offering poured out. I don’t need a shallow competitive spirit. It’s just such a waste of time. I am already enough—Jesus did that for us—he made a way for us to be more than enough. We are forgiven, we are restored, we are brought back into a right relationship with God, we are transformed, we are never going to be read our junked up moments on a scroll when we’ve already been forgiven for them.
I’ve learned other things in these short four days. I’ve learned about how cool it is to have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband. I remembered how to laugh for the sake of laughing and not mentally trying to remember why I was laughing so I could write/ tweet/ post about it later. If it’s that good. I’ll recall it later. Being alive in the moment is as close to heaven as we get. Being in tune with each other. Letting God lead our moments and our spontaneous decisions. It’s just too much fun to live any other way.
I hope you’ll consider a digital detox or reading deprivation (if books tend to consume you like they do me) sometime this month. Give it a try. Even for a day, it could change things for you!
Let me know if you decide to do your own digital detox and how it goes for you. Find out more about the #unplugforlove campaign on Aedriel's blog as well.