It is important for us to understand the ways that technology is a “silent killer” to a Christian life. I am here referring to its uncanny knack for wasting huge chunks of our lives. Technology accomplishes this so insidiously that we often don’t even notice until it’s way too late. We become virtually hypnotized by the sea of trivia, gossip, and useless “stuff” that assault our senses. Do you really need to know that John, who went to high school with you 25 years ago, bought a Domino’s pizza on his way home last night? Was your life enhanced by seeing a photograph of said pizza?
Who hasn’t lived this scenario: You are just going to pop online to do a quick check of your Twitter and Facebook accounts, to stay in touch with your friends. When you come up for air, two hours have passed (two hours that you will never get back), and for the life of you you can’t remember one truly important takeaway from your session. There are so many rabbit holes available to you, that you are hundreds of mouse clicks away from your original plan to simply check your Twitter feed.
Or how about this one: You are planning to finally upgrade your laptop computer, or maybe you are going to add a tablet to the family technology arsenal. You log onto YouTube to check out the latest reviews, and then you notice an interesting video listed in that right hand column, and then another, and another, until you find yourself learning way too much about Amazon’s plans to revolutionize the delivery marketplace with drone package delivery. Wait, what was I researching again? Another hour of your life, gone forever.
Did you decide to check out one of the online games, just to see what the fuss was all about? That was last month, and your initial taste has become a full-fledged obsession, and you are now playing daily, determined to reach super wizard status. Another hour…or two… or three….?
I have become convinced that one of the enemy’s major tactics to weaken God’s people is to distract us, and the internet is Exhibit A. We log on with a plan to research something or just to touch base with our friends, or to check our email, and there are so many bright shiny objects that we just can’t resist. Non-productive Hours spent online become major chunks of our lives that are no longer available to us for prayer and Bible study, for our families, for productive daily routines, and sometimes at the cost of adequate sleep. Surfing the web is easy, an escape, triggers the Dopamine release we all crave, and enables us to avoid engaging in activities that truly matter.
So, fellow Christian, how do we protect ourselves from the time waster danger that is the internet? Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- ALWAYS have a definite plan for what you intend to accomplish when you log on to the internet. Exercise the discipline to do what you intended, and then leave!
- Consider turning off your notifications. Notifications deliver a shot of dopamine every time you get one, and of course then you must check to see who or what has notified you. No notifications- no dopamine.
- Consider only checking email and social media at specific times during the day. Again, get in, deal with the messages, and get out.
- Build alternate habits into your life to combat the mindless browsing, such as scheduled time for spiritual disciplines, exercise, and time with loved ones.
- Consider occasionally going on a 24 hour fast from social media and perhaps email.
- When you are with family and friends, be there! How many times have you seen that couple in the restaurant, not a word spoken as they are both totally focused on that little 5 inch screen?
- Consider creating “no cell- phone” zones in your life, places like the dining room table, and maybe in bed.
So while we celebrate the many ways that modern technology has improved our lives, may we be vigilant that we stay control of our consumption, and by extension, our time and energy.