7 Reasons to Power Down Technology || Joshua Becker


7 Reasons to Power Down Technology || Joshua Becker

For Lent, I gave up my iPhone apps. Not the phone, just all the peripheral unnecessary apps that clutter up my home screen. You know, things like Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Bloons TD 5. It is an exercise in self-discipline intersected with my desire to use the Lenten calendar to refocus my heart on God.

Through the process, I have been learning a valuable lesson: All technology has a power-off button. And the wisest of us know when to use it.

Consider just some of the valuable reasons to turn off technology for an extended period of time:

1. Powering-down helps remove feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Researchers recently discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most. Certainly, not every interaction with Facebook is a negative one. But typically, our own experience validates their research. From family happiness to body image to vacation destinations to the silly number of birthday greetings on a Facebook wall, the opportunity for envy presents itself often on social media. Powering-down for a period of time provides opportunity to reset and refocus on appreciation and gratitude for the lives we have been given.

2. Powering-down combats the fear of missing out. Scientifically speaking, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has been recognized as a recently emerging psychological disorder brought on by the advance of technology. The premise is simple. Our social media streams are ever-filled with everything happening all around us. Nowadays, we even see the plates of food our friends are enjoying. And within this constant stream of notification, our fear of being left out continues to grow. Turning off social media and finding contentment in our present space is a welcome skill.

3. Solitude is harder to find in an always-connected world. Solitude grounds us to the world around us. It provides the stillness and quiet required to evaluate our lives and reflect on God’s voice in our hearts. And in a world where outside noise is coming quicker and louder than ever, the need for solitude becomes more apparent… and easier to overlook. True solitude and meditation will always require the intentional action of shutting off the noise and the screens.

4. Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you. Our world may be changing. But the true nature of life is not. Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you. These experiences will never repeat themselves. These conversations are unfiltered and authentic. And the love is real. But if we are too busy staring down at our screen, we’re gonna miss all of it.

 5. Powering-down promotes creation over consumption. Essentially, most of our time is spent in one of two categories: consuming or creating. Certainly, technology can contribute to creating. For example, this article was written (created) on a computer. But most of the time we spend in front of technology is spent consuming (playing video games, browsing the Internet, watching movies, listening to music). But our world doesn’t need more consuming. It needs more creating. It needs your passion, your solution, and your unique contribution. Power-down. And begin contributing to a better world because of it.

6. Addiction can only be understood when the object is taken away. Throughout my technological fast, I have learned something about myself. I have discovered I am far more addicted to technology than I would have guessed. But that is the nature of addiction, isn’t it? We can never fully realize our level of addiction until the item is taken away. And the only way to truly discover technology’s controlling influence on your life is to turn it off, walk away, and sense how strong the pull is to turn it back on.

7. God is not in your computer. There are valuable resources online to help you grow in your relationship with God – the Unitive is a wonderful example. But this truth remains: God does not live in your computer. He lives inside you. He lives in the lives of those around you. He lives inside his Word. And often times, it takes powering-down our technology to rediscover Him.

How then, in our ever-connected world, might we take appropriate steps to find balance and intentionality in our approach to technology? If you need help getting started, try one or more of these helpful tips:

• Better manage time-wasters. There are a number of Internet tools that can help you better manage your time online. Freedom will disable your entire Internet connection for a time period set by you. Selfcontrol will allow you to block access to uniquely specified websites (for example: Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, your favorite blog) for a period of time, but still have access to the rest of the web. Or, if you are really desperate, you could hire somebody to slap you every time you visit Facebook.

• Choose to start your day elsewhere. Henry Ward Beecher once said, “The first hour is the rudder of the day.” Spend it wisely. Commit to not turning on technology during your first waking hour. After all, the world ran just fine without you for the previous 7-8 hours, one more won’t hurt it. Blocking out that one hour to focus on God or your upcoming day will help you wisely shape the other 23.

• Power-down for one period of time each day. Choose a specific period of the day to intentionally power-down. As mentioned above, this may be the first hour of the day. Or maybe the last hour of the day works better for you… or even 3:30-4:30 each afternoon. The specific time of the day is not important. Choose something that works for your specific lifestyle. What is important is the discipline of learning when and how to power-down.

• Take one extended break on a regular basis. I have found great value in choosing 40 days to power-down unnecessary apps. It has taught me about technology, relationships, and myself. Whether it be for one weekend, one week, or 40 days, there is great value in taking an intentional extended break from technology. Pick something. And get started right away.

Learning to power-down technology is an important life skill with numerous benefits. It is becoming a lost art. But the wisest of us take time to learn the discipline. And live fuller lives because of it.


Joshua Becker Joshua writes regularly on his blog, Becoming Minimalist, where he inspires others to find more life by owning fewer possessions. He is also the author of Simplify and Living with Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness.
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17 Responses to “7 Reasons to Power Down Technology || Joshua Becker”

  1. Michele Walker says:

    Great post. I love being connected, but savor my solitude too. I took a one month sabbatical from Facebook for my New Year’s resolution and discovered that while I enjoy social media and staying in touch with others, at times it controls me more than the other way around. While I love and appreciate technology, it was hindering me from enjoying things that I love even more. Now, it’s all about balance and I’m still tweaking things in that area. Your thoughts were very helpful. Starting tomorrow I’m going to begin by implementing the “commit to not turning on technology during your first waking hour” suggestion you offered.

  2. I hear a lot of people talking about getting rid of their smartphones or attempting to unplug completely.

    Seems to me that honoring God and oneself is the ability to properly utilize resources (whether things or technology) with restraint.

    At the core, I think minimalism does that…challenges us to find our core items and keep life organized.

    Love the idea about not starting the day on the computer (or phone). I have noticed that what I do in the morning shapes the day. (Here I am, online, ha!)

  3. During my journey to consolidate I have found it easiest to get rid of the none technology items. I found that I could get of my books because I could read them on my screen. The one problem with this is that I then have to spend more time in front of the screen, even doing the activities that in the past I could get away from it. It seems that because of technology we are able to get rid of a lot of “things”. The reason is usually that you can do it with a device that is much smaller and can also do many other things!

    This is something that has plagued me for a few weeks now, how do you handle this?

    Chris

  4. Karen Taylor says:

    Thanks so much -this is such good advice and an awesome idea for a Lenten sacrifice. I see so many people being consumed by their smartphones… I have an “old school” phone without internet. I do not aspire to have various apps or use the internet on a phone. People often tell me I need to get myself updated and into the modern world of technology. But my life feels “sufficiently efficient” without these new gadgets. People roll their eyes at me like I am a geek of another sort…lol …Perhaps it because I grew up when cell phones, laptops, and the internet did not exist or was not readily affordable (the 1980’s). We communicated well enough back then and also thrived with plenty of activities to stimulate and nurture our minds and bodies. I am concerned about the long term impact “technology” will have on social skills and communities in general. BTW, my new FB page is looking for new fans, so please come visit if you are “like minded” :)

  5. Lisa Byrne says:

    Great stuff here.
    thanks for your sensible reasoning.
    At our movement studio we talk about this:
    Unplug, Disconnect, Open the Door & Get Out.
    Cheers.

  6. […] with technology, and there will be several posts which encourage us to limit our use of it.  To take breaks from it.  To sabbath.  We must take that encouragement […]

  7. […] 7 Reasons to Power Down Technology | The Unitive by Joshua Becker. A post I contributed on the intersection of technology, mindfulness, and faith. […]

  8. Barbara F. says:

    Great post! I’m one of the “one in three who felt worse after visiting Facebook”. Now, I try to focus on God, my own life, and not what others are doing. Thanks for the good points!

  9. Meg says:

    Great post and it hits home for me! This month for my mindful journey I am working through unplugging and deactivated my FB account for the month of March. I found that I was mindlessly checking my phone and realized that I didn’t want my children growing up to see my nose stuck in a phone. And afterward, I was often distracted rather than being present with them. I have learned so much through the research I began to read and have found the break refreshing. I’ve gained so much clarity, feel calmer and less distracted. I think I will make a conscious choice for one or two extended breaks a year to make sure I stay grounded. Thanks for sharing!

    (Here is where I chronicled my month of unplugging. There was also a great New York Times series written ‘Our Brain on Computers’ that I added to my references. Really interesting stuff! http://amindfuljourney.com/2013/03/)

    Best,
    Meg

  10. I love this. This week I spent some time unsubscribing to all email newsletters, removing all “likes” from my FB feed, and basically removing any and all advertising from where I CAN and DO control it. And I absolutely agree with #2. Now that they are gone, so are my feeling of wanting, missing out, feeling like I need things I never knew existed. Etc.

    • justlynne says:

      I have started doing this with my email, My email was so full of stuff of places from a life from another life. I about to do the same thing with facebook.

  11. A great post J.B! Thanks for inspiring me to living a life of minimalism (in the U.K)

    Technology can certainly be a great addition to one’s life but only if it is carefully managed! Whilst the benefits are many, there are also many weaknesses. The use of technology can easily consume your time and energy, more-often than not, engaged in activities that no not add any true value to your life and stealing away valuable leisure time in which you could be flourishing and involved in activities that lead to lasting contentment and happiness.

    If you are interested in reading more about this subject, and other inspiring essays about how to live a simple, frugal, debt-free, minimalist life, then please read my recent blog ‘Time to ditch a time-stealer!’, on my website http://www.thedebtfreeminimalist.com.

    My latest blogs include:

    Is the iPhone such a smart phone?
    A tale of opportunity cost (and the effects of compound interest)
    I don’t need much!
    Are you a clutterist? Take the 5-a-day challenge (and i’m not talking fruit!)

  12. I love this concept of “FOMO.” I wrote a similar article about it here (http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2012/10/unplugging-from-technology-to-reconnect-with-your-child.html), in which I talked about our insatiable desire to be “in the know.” It often leads to missing out on precious time with our children, who DO notice that we’re paying more attention to our gadgets than to them!

  13. […] is a growing awareness of the dangers implicit in technology.  The need to unplug from technology, the reality of technological addiction, or the fact that technology makes it easier for us to […]

  14. […] 7 Reasons to Power Down Technology. By Joshua Becker. Though this article has some religious undertones, in the end, it’s about knowing when to power down and why powering down benefits us. I very much enjoyed reading this article. More and more I am choosing to power down and the of doing so are refreshing. […]

  15. […] Joshua Becker shares a few great reasons of why people should unplug. I don’t know if I’m going to “unplug” anytime soon again (for an extended period of time) […]

  16. […] by going easy on our gadgets and paying more attention to ourselves/others and life in general. Joshua Becker wrote a great article going over a few of the reasons as to why disconnecting ourselves from the online world can be […]

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