It May seem like a bold question. Especially to a believer. But let me show you here why it isn’t as far fetched as you might think.
Idolater- a worshiper of idols. A person that admires intensely and often blindly something or someone that is not usually a subject of worship.
I recently decided to do a fast for twenty days. I haven’t really fasted for anything before, but in preparation for my fourth year of bible school; I felt strongly led to do so and knew just what it should be. Phone-internet-social media-apps. I felt that I needed to quiet the buzz and outside distractions to really fully connect with God over those twenty days. It definitely wasn’t easy. The first three days made me realize how much I picked up my phone and how I had become completely unable to just sit and be during times of quiet or waiting. I partly chose to fast these things because as someone who is always looking to improve, I saw these things consuming way too much time. They caused me to only be at half attention to my spouse and my child and frittered away my productivity completely. Now, I know that my experience, feelings and views on this may not necessarily line up with yours, and that’s ok. But here, I want to share my heart and what God has revealed to me through my fast on this topic that literally affects almost everyone. The first few days of this were very uncomfortable but so invaluably revealing. I learned so much about myself during this fast and even more so, God revealed to me a new perspective going forward. I’m hoping by sharing what I experienced and heard from the Lord, that I can be a part (along with you!) of a shift back to healthier relationships, communication and priorities in the body.
I think we too easily let ourselves get away with spending time online because it’s such a big part of today’s culture.
We know it’s the social norm and everyone does it so we believe there’s nothing really wrong with it. But I believe taking one conscious step back to look at how we go through our day to day will show that we’ve settled into unhealthy habits and we were made for so much more. By prioritizing being connected, we automatically shuffle our other priorities (including people) down the ranks. Connection looked extremely different even just ten years ago and I believe we lost something vital in that transition. A lot of us have lived a good chunk if not all of our lives with technology. But as impressive as the progression has been, I believe it’s hindered us to function properly in our most basic and essential human need. And that’s relationship.
Online, most of us have more friends and connections than we ever dreamed, and instead of waiting for the 6’o clock news, we know everything the second it happens. We may seem more connected than ever, but in reality we’re very disconnected to the real world. You may be thinking, ” I don’t agree,” ” I’m up on current events and like all my friends’ statuses.” But what did relationships look like before you got everyone’s life served to you on a platter? It looked like intentional connection. It was catching up with a friend over coffee and sharing life’s intimate happenings instead of reading about it online with hundreds of strangers. Believe it or not, real life is what’s going on around you while you’re absorbed in refreshing your news feed every 5 minutes as to not miss a thing while you’re missing everything.
Something I quickly realized during my fast was that I had felt an obligation to see everything that my friends were posting online.
That I was somehow a bad friend If I didn’t know through Facebook that so and so was pregnant or what’s her face got a new car. If I was truly closely connected with those people, I surely would have known about these milestones in their lives outside of seeing them on a screen. Right? I literally had a close friend get offended when I didn’t see one of her statuses talking about an important event that took place in her life. When did our lives become something for the world to spectate over something to intimately share? Being friends with someone used to mean something and now we call literally hundreds of people our “friends”. We need to get back to giving the people closest to us more of our attention and access to our hearts than our friends list. That’s backwards. We were designed for intimate connection, relationship and interaction. The internet does connect a lot of people, but it’s not an adequate replacement for the real deal. I’ve seen it rob people of the ability or desire to interact in person with people. Whether because they’re addicted or because they’ve lost the ability altogether. They become so distant and out of touch with the people that need them most to connect to a world that takes little effort but so much time.
So back to the idolater thing.
I think we lose perspective because in our minds we may hear that word and picture altars, candles, incense, sacrifices, rituals, statues etc. But as the definition shows above, I think that this fits the description quite perfectly. Also, another interesting definition to look at here is worship. It is described as time spent honoring an idol, an outward manifestation of a feeling that comes from the item being worshiped. If you’re like me, you definitely see this as a low blow. You don’t want to think for a second that you’ve put something like a smartphone in your God spot! And that may sound extreme, but I believe that in many ways we have. And not only that, many of our priorities are mixed up because of this one device.
If we’re glued to our phones (this includes tablets and laptops too) in this manner, than they consume most of our resources, time and energy. What’s left for God? Your family? Your spouse? Your calling? You’ll probably find that the answers aren’t what you’d want them to be, but thankfully we were made to be powerful people and we’re capable of making powerful choices. All it takes is a change of mind (repentance) and a true desire to manage our time well, honor our responsibilities and keep our priorities organized accordingly. This personally has reminded me of the truth that God made me a powerful person and I am not a slave or victim to anything. That I alone am responsible for stewarding my time well by giving it to what holds value in my life and moves me toward my goals.
I’m not writing this as a slap on the wrist for those who use social media and share online. Even after the fast I still do. But it is much less. And don’t worry, the irony that I’m sharing this in a blog isn’t lost on me. I believe we just need to wake up to the fact that this can take up more of our lives than we realize and we need balance. Too much of anything isn’t good. And I believe there are many people out there who either struggle to put their phones down and be present or feel completely unimportant and invisible to someone who’s phone always has their attention. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. Me, I could see it becoming an issue, even being someone who’s always HATED when someone is on their phone during a hang out. It was eating up my time, I was making excuses to be on my phone, grabbing it every time I heard a ding and talking with people on a screen more than I had face to face heart to hearts with my boys.
I don’t want to turn off what makes me most like my Father. A loving, open, communicating, relational heart. An available partner. A Present parent. I want to see the body like that too! More like our Daddy. Like he created us to be. We need to get back to the basics. Technology and advancements are amazing, great and even helpful. Because of the internet I am able to video chat with loved ones all over the country on a regular basis, have reconnected with old friends and made several dear new ones that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet. But there’s two sides to every coin and everything has its proper time & place and needs to be managed. All day, everyday we make choices. Essentially yeses and no’s. When you say yes to something you automatically say no to something else. When you say “yes” to spending time online, what are you saying no to? Intimate time with your spouse? God? Quality time with your kids? Responsibilities that need to be taken care of? After a day, a week, a month our choices add up to show where our priorities lie. Being aware of what that looks like at the end of the day and holding ourselves accountable helps us adjust when necessary and keep our goals in life afloat. I have a responsibility to make sure the needs around me are being met and that those things and people are getting the best of me before I give more of myself, time or resources to anything or anyone else. We owe God, our families, marriages, children and our callings the very best of ourselves!
Our kids need to learn these concepts too! They’re growing up, learning and developing and we need to be the example of balance! It’s so important for kids to learn to play, be able to wait and be entertained without electronics. They can definitely be a part of it, but I think too much or all the time takes away the need for them to learn creativity, patience and imagination. Let’s teach our kids healthy habits in this area as we learn and implement them too!
Some ways to start cutting back
- Set boundaries as to when the phones and electronics need to be put away, such as quality time with friends and family or one on one time with your kids or spouse.
- Delete unnecessary apps or games. I had several that were fun, but even if you want to play or check them all for a little bit, that time adds up. Pick one or 2 to keep and ditch the rest.
- Delete Facebook from your phone altogether. That might be a tough one, but if you and your phone spend way too much time together, sometimes the best thing is to take away the temptation completely. Then you’re able to leave your phone down more and maybe check Facebook later on the computer when you have some you time or the kids are in bed.
- Set limits as to how much technology time is allowed. We implement this in our home as a family. My son isn’t allowed unlimited tv, game pad or video game time. He has set amounts he’s allowed for each activity. I’ve seen a big difference in his attitude and productivity since we’ve set limits. And he doesn’t even mind! Thankfully, he loves to run, play and make crafts and he welcomes this balance. For us adults, maybe deciding to check all media avenues for 20 minutes at the end of the day, or first thing in the morning with your coffee. The key is to set a limit you’re comfortable with but isn’t excessive, but then you’re done and it’s put away.
Obviously, we can’t put our phones and computers away forever! We need them to function and get things done in many ways! But to have a healthy use of these devices is very essential to the health and quality of our relationships and balance in our lives.
An absolutely amazing resource that delves deeper into the true heart of what I’m writing here is a book called Keep your love on! By Danny Silk. If I could put this book in the hands of every single person I would. It’s an amazing read, filled with invaluable knowledge on how to manage our hearts, time, relationships and live emotionally healthy and intentional lives. It’s changed the way I communicate, think and love! I cannot recommend it enough! So if you have not yet read this book, please do! You’ll be so happy you did.
I pray that this entry blesses you, challenges you and encourages you! You are amazing and capable of anything! Don’t ever forget that!
In His love,