Having embarked upon a series of Screen Free Sunday’s for Lent with Hazel, I wanted to go longer and larger and go for a full #DigitalDetox and challenge myself to a complete and utter screen free week. No phones (switched off), tablets (left behind), TV or any screen of any kind whatsoever.
OK it was immediately after the Olympics finished and I was on holiday in Norfolk, the sun was shining and the beach was calling, but it still felt like a challenge! No Screens all week…. No digital, no quick catch up on the TV news, no posting statuses, no looking at photos taken from the week (and no taking photos) and not being able to watch the opening show from #GBBO until 5 days after it went to air.
I have to admit, I was ready for the break. Since having the ‘Screen Free Sunday’ experience I was painfully aware that I had got sucked back into rhythms and patterns that were not good and healthy. I use my screens far too much, especially my phone.
It initially felt liberating, to create the conditions to not make use of any screen, it was amazing how much more face to face time I had, time to read print/books, listen to music and be less distracted and more intentional (I am aware that when in screen overdrive I can get so easily distracted and find it hard to focus for too long, I become a magnified version of a kid in a sweet shop, wanting to taste it all and flit from thing to thing / jar to jar and not savour and enjoy)
I also slept really well (Yes I had sea air and was more aware of just how tired I was by stopping on holiday) and how much more quickly I got to sleep (until an afternoon/evening in a field cooking and having a fire set off my Asthma). I also prayed more and felt much more connected to God and others.
The idea of this week was part challenge and part necessity. It was never going to be nor intended to be a ‘silver bullet’ experience, as I knew that even after a week I would still face the same challenges as I had done since the screen free Sunday season.
However this week of being screen free made me stop and think more about the following questions.
- Should I switch my Wifi off on my phone after 11am and not switch it back on again until I get to work?
- How can I get better disciplined at ‘switching off’ and being much more fully present and screen free after work, in sharing a meal with family and the part of the evening before the children go to bed? Do I need to set some principles without becoming legalistic about use/non use between 5.30 and 8.30pm
- How can I better celebrate screens and use of the internet and social media. How can Less become more?
- Can I / Should I aim to have a Screen Free day (Saturday or Sunday) on a weekly basis for a much longer/permanent period of time?
- Should I delete email apps/ability to check emails from work etc on holidays and also social media?
There is a lot more fascinating research and thinking to be done around technology, being human, being a disciple and follower of Jesus and how it can be used for good and also how it might need to be limited to enable relationships to flourish.
It was a good week, and I want to continue to experiement, read, think and explore these questions. If anyone fancies an evening/lunch/gathering to explore these themes and questions over beer/food/coffee or all of these them I’d be game!