Media Fasting

I no longer spend my days sitting in front of a glowing screen, as I so often had to do back in my office-work days. But neither am I completely separated from screens now either. I start each morning with a cup of coffee and some time at the computer–I post on this blog, scan the news headlines and, time permitting, have a look at a few other blogs. Later, I try to spend an hour at the end of the day, just before bedtime, with a book. But before sitting down with my book, I try to respond to the comments on my blog, again putting me before a computer screen.

A couple of months ago I did an involuntary media fast. I had to trade in my computer for a new one, so I spent several computerless days. Without my morning blogging routine, I found that I was outside starting the day at least a half hour earlier than normal (sometimes taking my coffee along with me). In the evenings, I started my book time sooner. It caused me to realize how much time I spend online–time that would otherwise be spent outside or reading a book.

I’m not one of those people who goes on the internet and complains about its existence. I enjoy the internet, and even as we’ve shed someΒ of the things folks use to keep themselves entertained (like television), I wouldn’t want to go back to life without the internet. I’m a fan of the information age, even as I recognize that its impact isn’t all good.

But I’m wondering if I shouldn’t take a break from it now and then. Instead of waiting for my computer to break before taking my next media fast, maybe I should make them a regular practice.

It’s good to break a routine now and then, if for no other reason, just to know you can. I’m still thinking about it, and what a fasting discipline might look like. Just thinking on a rainy morning…

21 comments on “Media Fasting

  1. EllaDee says:

    I have an enforced media fast each time we spend a few days way from the city at our house at Taylors Arm where there’s no internet coverage and we rarely bother turning the TV on. While I love the connectivity and community afforded by the internet… I enjoy a respite. Similarly, I customarily spend more weekday time online and whatever weekend life affords us with the G.O. As always, if I have a moment to myself, a book is close to hand πŸ™‚


    • Bill says:

      That’s how I feel too–as much as I enjoy the internet, some time away from it is a good thing too. In my case maybe I just need to change up the time of day I do it, or have a hard stop when the coffee is gone. πŸ™‚


  2. BeeHappee says:

    One of the photo blogs I follow just had this image posted, so here is one for you on the Internet (scene from India):

    Liked by 2 people

  3. gatheringplaceseasonfour says:

    MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time is one of the most …


  4. youarehereuk says:

    Thank you for reminding me how good it is when you can concentrate without the worry about what everyone else is doing!


  5. Joanna says:

    You must have been sat in the car on the way to the airport this morning, as Ian and I were talking about the exact same topic. Having a mobile internet out on our land has been a boon and a curse. A boon because it is easy to stay out there and I can work and Ian can both stay out in the caravan and communicate with me while I am away. It is also a boon as we watch the weather on the radar to know when the rain is coming and can time our jobs appropriately. It is also a boon for the handiness of being able to check relevant information that we can’t quite remember and I could list numerous things. Having said that, we can also waste our time on the net. Now I just need to check the weather reports and the radar to see if I am hanging the washing inside or outside πŸ˜€


    • Bill says:

      The internet is very helpful to us in very many ways. I wouldn’t want to be without it. But it can be an addictive time-sucker too. I think I manage my screen time reasonably well. I’ve weaned myself of sports and politics for example and that helps a lot. But being without it showed me that it takes more of my time than I realized. It usually eats up more time than that necessary to drink a cup of coffee and every time my smart phone dings, indicating a new email, I stop what I’m doing and dig it out of my pocket. 99% of the time there was nothing time-sensitive about the message.


  6. shoreacres says:

    This past weekend, I went to the Hill Country to visit both a friend and a museum with an interesting exhibit. I caught up with comments on my blog before I left on Friday morning, turned off the computer, and that was it until Sunday evening. Since my friend has no computer and I have no fancy gadgets, there wasn’t any online time for two days.

    There were only two times I wished I had access: when I wanted to identify a wildflower, and when I wanted to pull up a list of flowers bearing the name of Ferdinand Lindheimer. In a bit of wonderful irony, I found the flower I wanted to ID in the museum: dried on a sheet of paper, a part of Lindheimer’s herbarium that was included in the exhibit. His handwritten notes were included.


    • Bill says:

      That makes me smile. Once upon a time we had to find information without the internet to help us. As a fellow philomath I’m a big fan of the internet. It’s like having all the world’s libraries (and librarians) available at all times. Clearly one of the wonders of all time and a credit to humanity. Having said that, one of the best things about our once a year camping weekend is that we disconnect for a few days. No internet. It’s refreshing.


  7. avwalters says:

    Just like, watching television is often an outgrowth of depression, sometimes media addiction is a way to park your brain with busyness. When I notice this, I step away–never completely, there is business to attend to–but enough to reclaim my rhythms as my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie Graves says:

    I, too, am a fan of the Internet and the way it connects me with like-minded people. Five days a week, I write short essays for my blog and usually post pictures with them. I view this as a very creative outlet. However, I agree that it is important to take breaks from the computer, and this I do every weekend. Friends and family have learned not to send me time-sensitive emails on the weekends, because from Friday night to Monday morning, the computer is off, and I don’t check my email. Very restful!


  9. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, yes, we as a culture love our Internet gadgets. I’m about a decade behind in the realm of technology. When I was young and just out of college, I was thirsty for any kind of technology. Heathkit was my friend and I actually built a TV that worked for many years from a Heathkit. For those that don’t remember Heathkit, it was company that made kits for radios, TVs, test equipment and a whole catalog full of things that could be built. They would send the parts and circuit boards along with instructions on how to assemble the parts. It was awesome. As the years bumped along technology caught fire and started doubling every five years, then doubling every two years, and today it doubles astronomically quick. No one can know every thing about technology today. Some where along the road of life technology lost its glamour in my life. Today, I still use the computer on a daily basis but just don’t have the time to spend exploring all the new facets of the technology world. I’m totally OK with that and use it do email, blogging, and now perhaps some low tech video. I do love technology but I just don’t need the latest and greatest of every thing. I can see that it has definitely changed the way businesses can stay in touch with customers and suppliers but do we really need to order something and have it the same day or the next day? We are such an instant culture. I can see it in my grandson. It’s the I see I want syndrome. There are times when I forget my cell phone at home. (gasp) It’s a tragedy that society expects an instant response to a text and usually gets one when sent. When I’m on vacation which is rare these days, I don’t answer emails; don’t comment on blogs; or really do much texting. The media world that I leave behind has more trouble with that than I do. Anyway media addictions and sabbaticals are subjects that wouldn’t have even been thought about a few years ago.

    Have a great sabbatical thinking day.


    • Bill says:

      I can’t keep up with the technology either. I don’t even try. My son works in that field so when I see him I ask him to catch me up on what’s new. Amazing stuff.

      Sometimes I listen to podcasts while I’m working and yesterday I heard one about drones. A quad-copter drone, easy enough for a child to operate it, weighs only about 4 pounds and costs less than $1,000. By next year it will probably be half that price. I found myself thinking that I’d like to have something like that to keep an eye out for poachers during hunting season (it sends back high-def video from a camera mounted on it). Of course I won’t be buying one, but the experience reminded me of how seductive technology can be.


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