Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Digital Detox (04/24/14)
TITLE: Unplugging To Get Plugged
By Dee Kyalo
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A few of us had agreed to take the challenge and this meeting was going to get us started.
“In many ways, we have lost touch with humanity and simplicity. Technology rules the world; we are no longer a tangible community but a virtual one. I can bet that many of us here weren’t aware that March 7-8 was National Day of Unplugging. Does anyone know what that is?” He posed.
Terry spoke up. “Yes. It’s a period of 24 hours where digital-crazy people like me are encouraged to shut down our digital devices so as to slow down, recharge, and reconnect with ourselves and others.”
There was laughter and in the room and before Elder Matthew responded, Shawna interjected.
“Honestly, I don’t think it can work; and that unplugging day thing, is it even real?”
“Terry, you’re right. And Shawna, yes, it is real. Since we didn’t participate in that one, we are going to pick one day per week to detox. Digital users like you and I need to be intentional about unplugging our devices to get plugged with God because without that, we will lose ourselves.”
“That will mean that I am 100% unreachable for a whole 24 hours! I can’t,” protested Leah. “I have to check my messages. I find that my dreams are thoughts about what I could be missing. There is no joy of missing out.”
Everyone thought Leah’s argument was both comical and valid. In response, Elder Matthew picked up the discussion again.
“Try to remember that before there was an Internet filled with adorable kitten pictures and videos, there was an actual world filled with adorable kittens. We need to get back to that world from time to time and if we are consistent, it will help us stay connected to God, living out the first commandment - to love God.”
And for about half hour we listened to him as he explained the importance of this exercise in relation to our spiritual lives. Some people made the commitment while others thought they couldn’t.
I believed it was worth the try. I had never done a ‘total digital-detox’ – only a partial one by staying away from Facebook and Twitter for a week. When I returned, I was confronted with myriad messages. I know sometimes people have good intentions, but just because I’m off social media doesn’t mean that there is something wrong.
As much as our digital devices help to keep us connected with others – especially those we may not see every day, they do bring with them a lot of distractions and can add to noise in our life, drowning out the rhythms of beauty and grace around us. So I was definitely willing to try this intentional turning away from distraction and toward a weekly practice that would help to silence the noisiness.
Additionally, we unplug to get plugged because it reveals our idolatry and helps us to repent. Our digital devices are good in themselves but they hold too much power in our life. I thought about Leah’s protest. Most of us are just like her. We feel like life is meaningless without our digital devices. We may give valid reasons for not unplugging but the reality is those devices are occupying a place in our life that they were never meant to hold.
God gave the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone (Exodus 24:12 NLT) to help the Israelites. These commandments were supposed to be contained in their hearts to stay connected to God but none of the people were intentional in treasuring them; and they got disconnected from God. Consequently, Moses devised a simple tablet-detox method; he threw the tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain (Exodus 32:19 NLT).
Tablets and other digital devices are meant to serve us yet we rely on them in unhealthy ways and most of us don’t know how to live without them. That is bondage! When we unplug, we can always go back later. That way, we will stay balanced. After all, it’s better to enter eternal life digital-deficient than to be thrown into hell with all the devices.
Inspired by: Matthew 5:29-30 NLT, Mark 9:43-48 NLT
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