Four weeks ago I made the decision to do a 30 day media fast. I was going to give up television (broadcast, Netflix, and YouTube), cell phone, media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Blogger, etc), and internet radio. The reason for doing a media fast was I felt I was becoming desensitized to the outside world. I was letting important moments go by.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with social media. I felt the need to take photos solely for the purpose of sharing them on social media. Not for documenting or recording a memory. Which is hard for me, because I use social media for the promotion of my art. There is a fine line there. And sometimes there is no line.
The first two weeks into my fast both my sons got a really bad stomach virus. And of course they shared it with me. I spent most of the time trying to get them well so they would not miss their last week of school. Took me almost an entire week to recover from this.
I had no trouble avoiding broadcast television, Netflix, and YouTube when I was alone. But it was harder when my family was around watching their shows or movies. I did my best to focus my energy on other things like reading. I did manage to read two books and the local newspaper from cover to cover.
I cleaned my entire porch. I did a lot of yard work and tended to my garden. Even harvested my first cucumber last week. This is a major accomplishment for me as I have always had trouble growing anything. I semi organized/cleaned my painting studio. I removed the cover to my AC unit and cut the overgrown grass around it. I did spend a lot of time on my porch drinking coffee observing nature around me. Deer like to walk through our backyard. I also enjoyed many sunrises and sunsets. Which I haven’t done since I was a child. I also interacted more with my family and people in general. When I was out and about, I started to notice just how many people are always on their cell phones and are missing out on the special moments.
The major struggle I had was avoiding my cell phone. Everyone texts or emails now. I had to keep using it to keep up with my sons’ activities (Cub Scouts, tennis, soccer, etc). But I only checked my major email address. Nothing else. Giving up internet radio was also kind of hard too. I listen to a lot of Podcasts and have a subscription to Spotify. I did listen to some music via a record player because I couldn’t find my old CD player. Not having the convenience of listening to exactly what I wanted to at the moment I wanted to made me slow down and appreciate the few records I did have to listen to.
In conclusion, I have come to the realization that I have to set boundaries. I will put my cell phone away when I am with my family and friends. I will be okay if I leave home without my cell phone. The world is not going to end. I will turn my computer and tablet off more often. Even with my family’s ever changing schedule I will try to set and stick to working hours. I will make an effort to appreciate the special moments that are happening all around me. I encourage you to do a 30 day media fast. You will be surprised by what you’ll discover.