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 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.|
|Read more posts by Joshua Becker|