Unplugged

When I left my old career, I determined that if I were ever to return to it, it would be as a healthy, thriving, confident practitioner of the art rather than a desperate one. It took some time to regroup after I made the decision to pull the plug on that career, but when I did, the first step I took in my quest to improve my health was to delete my Facebook account. It was around October of last year, and I found myself becoming anxious and frustrated by all of the political vitriol spewed in the days before the 2012 election. In addition, I lost a lot of respect for some of my friends and acquaintances–not because they didn’t agree with me, necessarily, but because their reasons for disagreeing were based on emotion and baseless fact and Internet rumor. In order to preserve my sanity and be a decent person when I saw these people in person, I exited Facebook and didn’t look back.

Best Internet-related decision I ever made.

Being away from Facebook gave me some mental space and eliminated the noise of the crowds. I believe that deleting my Facebook account is part of why I was able to focus more intently on hearing God’s voice through His Word. Perhaps that’s even partly why I felt the pull to deactivate the account–because He was calling me to return to the foot of the cross and listen to Him, not the Internet.

I wandered back into Twitter around the beginning of this year, about the time I started this blog. I had deleted my old Twitter account and wanted to start fresh following new people who were not in the same world I was in last year. Twitter is less personal than Facebook, in my opinion, and it’s easier to avoid Internet fights on Twitter, at least for me (some of you folks need to learn not to talk to trolls!). There is also a plethora of news on Twitter, and following journalists and websites that I like and respect allows me to winnow down the news to what I feel is beneficial without getting distracted by reading about Beyonce’s latest engagement at the White House.

I also started a Goodreads account so that I can keep track of what I’ve read and am reading these days and hopefully engage some other thoughtful readers on the topics of literature, speculative fiction, apologetics, and biographies. If you are on Goodreads, please find me there. I only have four friends so far. I could use a few more. I do love to talk books.

In any case, the first two days of this week found my calendar very full and my To Do List very long. I decided on Sunday night that I didn’t have time to even open my computer except for some Scouting-related tasks that needed to be done. So . . .

I went without the Internet for two days.

No Twitter. No news except what others shared with me. No blogs. No Pinterest.

I will confess that I did do a bit of e-mailing, but only a very little bit. I even put off e-mailing two friends until yesterday, and then only after I was finished with my volunteer obligations. It does seem like it’s almost impossible to function without e-mail these days, and many times, it’s very much more efficient than a phone call. And I confess to using Goodreads a very little bit, simply to record my progress on my reading (and I did this from the Goodreads app on my phone).

Otherwise? I went unplugged, and it was heavenly.

I have it as a goal this year to improve my all-around health. You will find the typical desires included in that rather amorphous goal–lose weight, eat better, get more exercise–but you will also find some more unusual health goals.

  • Improve my spiritual health by reading my Bible daily, praying more, meditating on God’s word, and studying apologetics.
  • Improve my intellectual health by reading more challenging books–classic fiction, biographies, literary fiction, history, and the like.
  • Improve my mental health by playing more, knitting more, laughing more, engaging in more creative endeavors without a specific goal in mind–in other words, create for the joy of creating.
  • Improve my emotional health by evaluating relationships, improving them where I can and eliminating those that are no longer beneficial to either party. (This may sound cold, but I have reasons. I plan to blog on them this week.)

When I was pursuing my old career, I spent a lot of time online. Much of it was “networking” (unproductive) and reading news from the field (demoralizing and discouraging). I wasted a lot of time talking to people about how I couldn’t get anything done. Yes, I have four children and many personal obligations, but to be honest, the Internet sucked a lot of time from my day. I do not want to return to that place where my life is all online.

So . . . Enter the days of being unplugged. Without news and chatting and blogs, I have more time and less worry. Without the Internet noise, I can hear God’s voice better and have more mental space to meditate on His Word. Without frustration from the latest idiocy out of Washington D.C., I can focus on my personal obligations with a clearer head. Without the distraction of Twitter, Pinterest, and all the news sites, I have time for life.

Over the last two days, I managed to:

  • Volunteer
  • Finish reading The Paradise Trilogy, by Ted Dekker
  • Cast on a pair of toe-up socks using a new pattern
  • Shepherd my children through chores and homework in a more peaceful and efficient manner
  • Exercise (I’m just now getting to the physical health goals)
  • Visit the craft store on a quest for beads for a shawl I currently have on the needles
  • Run innumerable errands
  • Finish reading the Old Testament

The Internet creates this weird sense of urgency in some of us, I think–as if we might miss something vital should we turn it off. But in truth, there is nothing so important online that it can’t wait a day or two–and if there is, we will surely hear about it in some other fashion. And as for my own contribution to the noise, there is nothing I have to say that is so vital to your well-being that it can’t wait a bit, either.

The truth is that despite our phones, laptops, iPads, iPods, and all the rest, life still happens in three dimensions, not two. Life happens out here, not online.

Engage in life. Unplug.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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5 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. Laurel C Kriegler

    I completely understand this. I’ve been finding that I also need to take a step back. I guess we grow dependent on the internet after a fashion, and if one is always online, one unconsciously expects everyone else to be doing likewise, so if there isn’t an immediate response to something one does, then one crashes emotionally. I do this all too often. Even with a less-than-one-year-old in the house! Lately I’m also trying to take time out – at least during the daytime, so that I focus more on my daughter than on the online space.

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      I completely agree about the immediate response syndrome! I used to do that as well. Time out is a good thing–I immensely enjoyed mine and plan to do more of it. 🙂

  2. sally1137

    I left Facebook last June for exactly the same reason. I’m much better off without it. Thanks for the Goodreads link. I was unaware of the site. 🙂

  3. jmpadoc Post author

    I, too, am much better without Facebook. I feel human again.

    And you’re welcome regarding Goodreads. I hope you’ll look me up there! 🙂

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