Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” Emerson’s statement relates well to our modern digital age; it can be a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Experts predict that by the year 2015, 80% of our world’s population will have a Smartphone, iPad, or laptop computer. Just look at any restaurant table and you will see people sitting with heads down completely captivated with their small screens. In our homes, schools, and churches the evidence is all around us: we have been invaded. You and I are connected all day, every day, no matter where we go we can’t escape the “plugged-in” life. The new “WWW” stands for: Whatever, Wherever, Whenever.
A recent cover of Newsweek (July 18, 2012) reads “iCrazy: Panic. Depression. Psychosis. How Connection Addiction is Rewiring Our Brains.” The article states that new research reveals the Internet can make us more lonely and depressed—and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways. So why are we all at risk for becoming addicted to our digital gadgets? It’s because they act like electronic cocaine to our brain. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine said, “There’s just something about the electronic medium that’s addictive. I’ve seen plenty of patients who have no history of addictive behavior become addicted via the Internet and these other technologies.”
This 24/7 invasion is starting to take its toll on our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual life. Many researchers believe life in the digital world is causing us to lose our “depth,” our depth of thinking, creating, contemplating, feeling and emotions, as well as depth in our relationships and work. In short our digital gadgets are so smart they are making us dumb.
It’s time for us to reclaim the ground that the digital invasion has stolen from our real life and relationships. One solution is to “BE WHERE YOUR BUTT IS.” I like this phrase because it so aptly describes what is needed. How many times do you find yourself or someone you are sitting with in the same room, but in conversation with someone not in your presence? This new revolution is about practicing the presence of people. When you find yourself in this situation, hit the pause on your Smartphone, close the laptop, connect with whoever is present. If you are having lunch with a friend, stay focused and present in the moment with each person. Give them your full attention. Make a no heads down rule in your home where there is no looking down at a computer or cellphone during a conversation. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all would just be where our butt is?
Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not be conformed to this (digital) world but be transformed by the renewing of your (unplugged, Christ-like) mind.”
I see in my own life how digitally dependent I have become. I want to share some of my digital boundaries that I am trying to implement in my life and hope it will encourage you to set up some of your own boundaries.
- Do not check my Smartphone until after my morning devotions.
- End my digital day at 9:00 p.m.
- Don’t check my Smartphone when having lunch or dinner with a friend, or leave phone in car.
- Take a digital fast every Sunday.
- No digital gadgets at meal times.
- Limit checking emails or texts to once an hour.
- Try not to talk on phone to virtual people when real people are in front of me.
- Pray daily for God to help me become a good steward of my virtual life.
Now it’s your turn. I invite you to take a 24-hour digital fast to unplug from digital technology and plug into your real life for one day a week, or one day a month. Try to take it on a Saturday or a Sunday, turn off your computer, iPad and your Smartphone. I know your emails will pile up if you don’t look at them for a day or two, but you will be amazed at how much easier it will be to deal with them after taking a day off.
Instead of using your Kindle, read a regular book and underline in it and write in the margin. Instead of typing, write with pen and paper. Living intentionally in this digital world means you will need to awaken to your relationship with technology, assess what technology has stolen from you, and then reclaim your real life and real relationships. Take the challenge at www.Facebook.com/TheDigitalFastChallenge, or stop by www.TheDigitalInvasion.com.