Friday, April 9, 2010

The Great Silence (and the Fast)

I don't post something on this blog every day by a long shot. However, I don't usually let 6 weeks go by; I've rarely let 6 days go by without putting something on full tummies. My neighbor, Lisa, and I committed to a Lenten fast from the internet/computer this year. I'll link up to her blog reflection on our "fast" when she posts her reflections--she "interviewed" us last week with a few questions. Suffice it to say for now that we are truly glad we set aside this time and have learned a lot about ourselves, our society, and technology. I highly recommend a similar experiment for anyone reading this! In fact, it's taken nearly a week since the fast ended to even post something; I'm obviously not overly eager to jump back on the internet/blog bandwagon.

Our individual rules were different. I allowed myself more flexibility than she did. She checked email once a week and did no other internet-related activities (or, that was the plan--she'll discuss why and when she "broke" her fast in her reflection). My rules were to check email only once a day and do only internet-related activities that were absolutely necessary and couldn't be done by any other method. The primary cause of this last rule was simply that we have an internet-only bank; to pay bills and do basic banking, I must use the internet. As much as possible, I tried to stay away from my food blog--choosing to use recipes that I had in other places rather than access my stash of favorite recipes on the blog.

So, what did I learn? Here's a short list:

1. The internet/email has some definitely legitimate uses (such as the aforementioned banking, getting in touch with my hubby via email when phone is not available, etc.).

2. The internet/email is a big time waster and was not contributing to my life in proportion to its presence in my life (that is, the opportunity cost of spending time on the internet usually left a deficit).

3. Some hobbies and ways of spending time are restorative in nature whereas others are merely passive. In other words, playing the piano, going for a walk, sewing, gardening, painting, writing a letter, reading a book--all of these restore the hobbyist in ways that surfing the web and watching TV do not. They function just as well for stress relief as TV/internet does, but they also restore or give back to the hobbyist. The mind has a chance to process the day, mull over details, plan an upcoming event, wander at will, enjoy the creative process, etc. when a person is engaged in something creative or naturally related. The mind is turned off and put to sleep when internet surfing/TV watching--and when the mind wakes back up, it still needs to process everything! This leads to remarkable mental clutter.

4. Margins are necessary and procrastination is NOT. If we fill all the little 10-15 minutes spaces before leaving for an activity, between two different activities, or just a "boring" little spot with internet surfing or email or whatever, then we're not leaving ourselves any margin for error. Instead, during this past 6 weeks, if I had a 10-15 spot of time, I'd get us all ready to leave at a more leisurely pace; I might fold a load of laundry or make a doctor's appointment/phone call or empty the dishwasher or.... Then, when something did come up (a "boo boo" that needed a bandaid, an emergency trip out of town, a friend needing to talk via phone), I was ready to deal with it because everything else had been taken care of along the way. I also got a lot of little projects completed because I used those little margins of time in a better manner.

It's worth taking some time to evaluate your use of technology!

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