An Experiment in "Anti-Social" Behavior

It’s day three, and my withdrawal symptoms are raging. Shakes. Irritability. Difficulty focusing. Depression.

If you had told me I was “addicted,” I would have denied it, but apparently I am.

Okay, I’m a bit melodramatic. I’m not depressed, and the shakes are from a lack of coffee. However, it’s surprising to me how difficult my latest act of obedience has become.

I recently felt like God asked me to go without social media or television for 2017. That’s right, a whole year.

What no Facebook? No Twitter? No Instagram? No Madam Secretary or Designated Survivor?

Yup.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s a bit of the backstory.

I was one of the early Facebook users. I wasn’t, however, using it a lot or using any other social media sites until just before my first book, Epic Grace, got published. My agent and my publisher at Tyndale told me, “You need to set up an author page on Facebook and get on Twitter and maybe Pinterest to promote your book.”

I didn’t even know what Pinterest was (and it took me days to figure it out). I thought Twitter was stupid. But okay, I’ll jump in and do my best. So, I set up the accounts and downloaded all the apps on my smartphone and iPad.

Since then, I’ve posted thousands of pictures, pins, and pithy comments. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing to admit how much time I’ve spent on social media. It was the first and the last thing I did every day, and let’s just say my time on “the throne” also increased exponentially

For decades, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the idiot box (i.e. TV). In the early years of our family, we often chose not to have a television in our home. It seemed counter-productive to a healthy family environment, and we wanted our kids to be avid readers.

Then after a while we’d break down and buy a cheap one, and end up watching it too much until we tossed it again in frustration (or at least stuck it in the closet) after about a year.

For the last ten years or so, with all the kids out of the house and a bit more free time on our hands, my wife and I found it relaxing to watch a few of our favorite programs together each week.

But then a few each week became a couple each night. It was my fault. I’d say, “I’m pretty tired and stressed, let’s just veg-out tonight in front of the TV.”

Back in the dark ages (when I was a kid), most of the TV programs were limited and awfully stupid. Of course, I watched them anyhow, but you can only take so much of Gilligan’s Island or Green Acres.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of choices and many truly entertaining programs flooding the airwaves. Fortunately, I’m married to an action junkie like me, so we’d both get excited about programs like Alias, 24, Burn Notice, or NCIS.

Then NCIS became NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, and NCIS Spokane (still waiting for that one).

Of course, the fact that the Seahawks became fun to watch didn’t help reduce my TV watching either, and man those three hours go by fast.

Then God whispered to my heart a few days ago, “What do you think 2017 would be like for you without any social media or TV?”

“Uh, God, stupid, and boring, plus I’d probably just work 12-hour days instead of 10-hour days!”

Silence.

The next day, I see this YouTube link about Millennials on Facebook, ironically. One of the things this Brit, Simon Sinek, is talking about is the negative impact of social media on the younger generation and our culture.

Seriously, Sinek, why are you so cynical?

But God was speaking to me again (btw, if He can speak through a donkey, He can speak through anybody, even Simon Sinek).

“Kurt, imagine the relational growth you might experience with your friends and family without TV. Imagine the new things you might learn without all the distractions. Imagine how you might better use your time to write more without social media. Imagine all the books you’ll get to read without all that wasted time.”

Surrender.

And now I’m getting excited!

Just this morning I read something extremely confirming to me by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp.

She wrote, “This is the year to engage silences regularly and retreat to the ‘back side of the wilderness.’ Because when you do not need to be seen or heard—you can see and hear in desperately needed ways. You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls—and not the glare of screens. Break free, break out of ruts, break idols—or they will break you.”

Hmmm . . . you find your true self in your reflection in the eyes of souls—not in the glare of screens. Wow.

So, my so-called experiment in “anti-social” behavior (at least via social media and TV) begins. I’m still using email, I’ll be on my computer writing more, and I need to enlarge my book budget, but I’m pumped to see what 2017 holds for me.

Maybe God has something to say to you about all of this?

Of course, my directive from God is not necessarily yours, but you might want to ask Him what He wants from you this next year.

It could be exciting.

Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who

hear the word of God

and put it into practice.”

Luke 11:28 (NLT)

 

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16 thoughts on “An Experiment in "Anti-Social" Behavior

  1. This is added confirmation to my own conversations with God lately. Three weeks ago I removed FB app from my phone after a long conversation with my life long best friend. I happen to believe God speaks through her all the time 🙂 – We were discussing the stress FB actually was placing in our lives… the time suck it has become and how I am privy to unwanted knowledge or information that ultimately makes me feel sad or frustrated on a regular basis. And on January 1, 2017 I aimed at giving it up altogether for 21 days and I would see how I felt going forward from there. It’s day 5.. I yearn a little to see what is going on in the cyber world but that yearning is trumped by the peace and contentment I am feeling and the ability to pursue more satisfying interests… reading, writing and talking face to face with my kids and hubby. Thank you Kurt! I don’t know if I am ready to drop TV yet, but I admire your example and appreciate your candid thoughts! Happy “freeing” New Year!

  2. Great work Kurt. I’ve been off of facebook for nearly 4 years now and I was happy on day 1, and still am today (and I’m a millenial).

    The social media culture is not quite as life giving as most would hope or pretend it to be.

  3. People wonder why I do not get on Facebook. Well, I would take it on like a “job” and I am retired. It still takes time to erase the 40 or so emails I receive each day – mostly from places that want to sell me something. But, I can get distracted by the idiot box. Even Tiny House Nation can become habit forming. I need the reminder that junk food tv is still junk food tv. If God has a plan for the remainder of my days on earth, I need to spend more time listening. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  4. Dad, not many people have noticed but for the last several months I frequently will go 1, 2 or even 3 weeks without getting on Facebook. I was with Facebook when it first started, back when there was still MySpace, and Facebook was created for Students. I love the connection it brings to family and friends far away, but I tire of hearing “you didn’t know?! …I posted it on Facebook!!” So, I chose a while ago to go without it from time to time. I miss out on a lot of social media “news”, but it forces me to reconnect with people in real life (IRL). To gather my news through IRL connections. I love my Facebook free weeks. I always go back to it, but I’ve learned that I can live without it, and the quality of life improves. I spend more time reading, as my wonderful parents taught me. I’ve started writing again, Kyle and I spend more quality time together, and I find myself having more time for the important things in life. Especially more God time. I probably won’t go a whole year without, but I will continue to do my Facebook fasts. This is a great post, Dad! Go you!! Proud to be your daughter! Love you lots!

  5. I turned off my social, except Netflix, well over ten years ago. Result, haven’t missed it one bit. Slight withdrawal but that disappeared soon after the severance. Today i get whatever news I may want from internet sources (not that they are any better) but I am not exposed to the never ending commerdials; oh how they bugged me. BTW, i never listen to the radio in my car, amazing how nice silence is, how clear my thinking can be, how in touch I feel sometimes.

    I dont physically talk to myself, do it mentallly now and hear God pretty clearly, sometimes. As I am a senior in age, dont feel it though, i seem to do a lot of thinking, dont have anyone to debate or share ideas, so i find talking to the Lord peaceful at times, should do it more often, good New Years, draw a line in the sand idea.

    Just a quick note to share that social media, for me was like giving up cigarettes, course i dont smoke but you get the idea. Thanks for your service, i searched for the right service for me, I was led to Eastpoint, i have found a home. God bless you in your challenge to continue to avoid social media,, it gets easier over time and surprisingly, you dont miss out on the news, it seems to find you somehow.

    Ciao. Bob

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