Life unplugged

This past weekend I sat in on a message from Daniel 1. The pastor was preaching on the subject of conviction, focusing on the part where Daniel "purposed in his heart" to no longer eat the king's food and drink that was set before him (Daniel 1:8). Daniel basically said that enough was enough, and based upon his conviction he was taking a stand against something that he believed would unduly influence his life away from the path that God had for him.

As a result of that example, the pastor challenged all of us to "unplug" from an area in our lives that exhibited great influence in our lives. Specifically, we were challenged to unplug from technology for the span of an entire day. No internet, no email, no television, no texting. A hiatus from Facebook, Twitter, online chats, and borderline addictions to our phones and computers.

I took this challenge to heart, knowing that I'm one of those guys that invests a lot of my time on social media sites and checking up on email and texts. I just want to be connected! Yet it was clear that a break from all of this was needed and now the gauntlet had been laid down for me to do just that.

As I woke up yesterday morning, I grabbed my phone as I usually do but I did not turn it on as I usually do. I had my wife remind me of the contents of a couple of emails that I needed to remember, but I stayed away from checking them myself. In fact, the computer stayed in my computer case and the television was on for a period of time, but only so that my little ones could watch a couple of educational shows. Instead of spending time trolling the internet, I read some from a book I've been wanting to read and took the time to read a little bit extra to my kids. When my oldest two got in from school we all went on a walk around the marina to look at boats. Before bedtime we all sat in the living room laughing as we told stories about our day. Normally, we would flip the television on and watch a show before getting settled for the night.

Can I just tell you how refreshing this was? The hardest part for me was with my phone. We don't have home phones anymore, just our cell phones, and my phone is basically a mini-computer. But I resisted to urge to mindlessly check my Facebook updates or emails and other than receiving a couple of texts, I was basically technology free (I did use my phone to receive and make phone calls; if my wife calls and I don't answer I may be in trouble!).

Overall I was almost a little bit ashamed at how much I rely on social media and other forms of technology on a daily basis. There is no substitute for actually talking to someone, preferably face to face. It felt freeing to unplug for a day, even though the irony is that I choose to depend on those mediums and "enslave" myself to them on a daily basis. Even as I type these words I am mindful of how much time I am going to stay online today instead of really investing in life that is going on around me.

It's funny how I find myself explaining to my kids how things were when I was their age (yeah, I do that old man stuff all the time). No computers, only a few channels on television, phones connected by cords in the house, etc. When they ask what I did for fun, I recall playing outside until the sun went down, reading books and playing with toys, and enjoying time with friends and family.

Today, all of that seems so far away and foreign to me and I'm afraid that I've been setting a bad example to my own children. But unplugging for a day was a great reminder that life is much sweeter when we choose to interact with real people and not just rely the gadgets we've made.

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