In a terrifying fascinating study recently, researchers asked people aged 18–77 to spend fifteen minutes alone. Completely alone. No cell phones, trivia crack, media, or sensory input of any kind. Over half the participants chose to give themselves electric shocks as a distraction, shocks they had previously said they would pay to avoid, rather than spend this period of time completely without outside input.
Fifteen minutes. I wish I had read this in the Onion, but I did not. This is incomprehensible to an introvert like me.
The average teen spends as much time in front of a screen as he would at a full time job.
So by now perhaps you’re thinking what I’m about to say—December is an ideal time to release your family from this technological tyranny. This Christmas, how about a technology black out? Or at least, a grey out. Close enough.
Don’t worry—no way I am going to tell you not to shop online. That’s just crazy talk. I could not survive Christmas without shopping online. It is the best invention ever in the history of history. This is a sanity-saver, so go ahead and take it. In moderation.
But maybe December is a month for taking an electronic break, if not a fast. During our 7 experiment this summer, we were supposed to eliminate seven forms of media from our lives for a month. I chose facebook, online puzzles and trivia games, non-work-related articles, Pinterest, snapchat, and movies. While I missed those things, I found it restful. I found it peaceful. I found I got a lot more work done. And, I have carried some of those habits into the following months.
Christmastime is the ideal time to revisit slowing down electronically. Tweeting, buzzing, and whirring are not sounds you want to hear while roasting chestnuts by the open fire, anyway. It’s a time we want to talk about peace on earth, so why not talk about peace inside our own heads, peace from the incessant feeling that we need to be available, accessible, responding at all times to every input?
It’s a time we want to talk about peace on earth, so why not talk about peace inside our own heads?
Peace that we could use to connect more closely with our people and our God. That’s a peace on earth we all could use.
So what can we do to take back our digital lives during December? And, can these habits carry through? Here are some options if you, too, think this sounds appealing.
Create Some Limits
Declare a Fast
Make a New Habit
And have a wonderfully quiet December.