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?
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!”
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.”
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)