Goodness gracious y’all. Writing about this whole experiment is taking almost as long as the actual experiment!
Before we continue onto our media fast- I forgot to mention in the possessions fast, that we had the kids join in as well. Jarvis had noticed a bin at the library the week before that was asking for donations of stuffed animals to send to third-world countries, it was clearly a school or girl scout project put on by a 4th or 5th grader. After talking about what it was/what it was for, I encouraged Jarvis and the twins to go through their stuffed animals and pick out some to donate. THIS was hard y’all. Not for them. For ME. I know who gave them each one, and I had way more emotional attachment to them than they did. There were a few that I vetoed giving away, but I tried to really let them decide. Jarvis ended up giving away half of his animals, the twins each gave a few (they have less to begin with- oddly enough, Joelle is the least attached to any stuffed animals and only wants her baby doll, she could care less about the others, the boys are VERY attached though, and arrange them nightly). And then we made a special trip to donate them. Plus, when we started getting rid of toys, I didn’t hide it from the kids, they knew we were selling/donating a bunch, and although there was some initial reluctance, they were eventually on board. It was a good learning experience for them!
Alrighty, on to media. This one is gonna hurt.
“How plugged in do you think you are? How has being plugged in distracted you from real-life relationships? How can you redirect your media and technology time into time invested in relationships?”
One of the big things that stood out to me during this devotion, was the concept of “In the world, not of the world.” (John 17:15-18).
This is a verse I know well, I’ve used it many times in justifying my actions or choices. But what does it really mean?
If you look closely, this can not be used as an excuse to wall ourselves off into little Christian groups where we exist in and of ourselves. We must be IN the world- interacting with those who don’t know Christ, developing heart-felt relationships that eventually allow us to shine and share the good news of the gospel.
But it also doesn’t mean that we are to conform and make our own little Christian versions of the worldly things. We are to be set apart and held to different standards. We are not to bow and buckle under the pressures of media and advertising and popular influence.
For me, I talk this as the fact that there is nothing inherently wrong with social media. But the important thing is to be able to use my critical thinking skills to evaluate how it affects it my life, my goals and purposes for it’s use, and appropriate boundaries.
“When asked about takeways from 7, one permanent change was this: I developed sharper critical thinking when it came to media ideologies and its sugar daddy, advertising. My sense of hearing became acute, and I could discern the tiniest whispers of deception, often undetected before. My media literacy increased, which is more useful than, say ignorance. ”
Jen goes on share her view on John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” This is how we protect ourselves and our children from the influences of media. She discusses that this is why she sat down and picked apart a teen magazine with her daughter, analyzing the advertising schemes and ploys, helping her to identify the truth in media, so that her daughter can be filled with Christ-truth, instead of just being sheltered and unable to reason and find strength in Christ.
How often do we do that for our children? I know my first inclination is to just hide them away, protect them from the rough patches of this world. But that never works in the long run, better to spend your time and energy filling them with His truth.
“Truth protects our identities from the popular media qualifiers of power, position, possessions, and beauty. Truth turns us into wise teachers, not simply avoiders. Truth helps us embrace the good elements of media and resist the bad, for it contains both.”
But we have to be careful still, as Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up.”
We each have to make the determination for our families about what is worth the entertainment or good values of social media and what crosses a line. What ends up giving us nothing good.
For some of us, it’s not so much the content of media in our homes but instead the quantity. When we find that we spend more time interacting with our phones, TVs, computers, and gaming systems instead of actual people.
This whole conundrum of mothering in the age of easy technology access to social media is really new. My generation of mothers, those of us with kids still in the 18 and under years, we are the first to really face this. To face what ready access to a whole world at your fingertips means for the day to day mothering.
I’ve done social media fasts before, and I reflected on one here.
For this fast, we agreed to stay off of facebook and instagram, and only check email after the kids were in bed.
We included the kids in this one as well, we cut out ALL shows and any screen time on their leap pads. They were probably watching around an hour of TV per day, sometimes more. They watch shows on Netflix with no commercials. They played their leap pads for maybe an hour every 3 days or so.
When it comes to “screen time,” they were already pretty low compared to most toddlers these days. I was worried about how they would respond. They weren’t invested in this experience like we were, didn’t have the understanding. We talked about it before hand, letting them know that we wouldn’t be watching any shows the next week. We talked about the whys, about how our brain absorbs information and the different ways we learn. We talked about how mommy (and daddy) spend too much time on our phones and not enough time interacting, and how we would be off our phones and they would be off shows. We committed to keep each other accountable. We talked about how when we wanted to do one of those things, we were going to focus on spending time with our family instead.
The first day, Jarvis stopped HIMSELF mid-way through asking to watch a show twice, that is a huge show of self-control for a 4 year old. The twins asked but were content with a no. By the end of the week, they didn’t even think to ask. They blew me out of the water with just how well they adapted. And their behavior improved some! No more crazies after sitting and watching a show. It really set the bar for me, and forced me to make a permanent change. It wasn’t them who couldn’t change, it was me. So we settled on a rule that works well for everyone. They are permitted to watch one or two shows while I cook dinner in the evenings. I’m able to cook without a ton of fighting, and they get to enjoy a learning show, but only for a short amount of time. It has worked out wonderfully. There are times that they are happily playing outside while I cook dinner and we just don’t watch a show that day. I find that some rainy days we make an exception and watch a show or two in the morning while the baby naps. And some days, they watch a show while I prep lunch and then don’t before dinner. I try to swing some grace in there, but overall, the amount of time they are watching TV has reduced dramatically. It was good for all of us.
As far as I went, honestly, I didn’t mind not having the social media, but every time I do a social media fast, I get complaints about my inaccessibility by people. Plus I find that I fall behind in my leadership positions and responsibilities.
So here’s where I stand. There are some good things about social media: facebook is an iffy for me, I could take it or leave it really, the only good I get out of it are awesome articles that people share; instagram is my small private collection of friends who uplift and inspire me, it absolutely gives me more good than bad; TV shows aren’t a huge issues for me, I will occasionally watch a show after bed or while folding laundry, but they don’t hold much appeal for me any longer- they used to.
However, social media can EASILY get in the way of my day to day life.
I’m not very good at sticking to this, and it is a constant source of repentance and re-commitment, but my goal would be to stay off of them completely unless the kiddos are sleeping. This helps keep my priorities in the correct place.
Where do you stand on media? Is social media your issue? Television on all the time? DVR full to the brim? Can’t stay away from news articles? How do you find that balance? Protecting ourselves as necessary while continuing to be in the world to share His light?
One other element to this media fast was the concept of choosing to free up our time from media to be able to reach out to the real people around us. Those neighbors you casually wave at but never stop to talk to. Those friends you keep meaning to call but forget. I’ve heard it referred to as relationship evangelism, the developing of true heart-felt relationships with the ultimate goal to be share the gospel with people. You invest, pour into, welcome and develop in depth relationships with people, praying for them and waiting for God to give you the moment to bravely share your Savior.
That isn’t something I am good at yet, I find it’s way to easy to just stay involved in the Christian groups I am a part of and forget that people are waiting, desperate and in the dark, for the good news. This is a lesson from this fast that I am still learning and growing into.
Up next- waste, another fun one that revolutionizes the way we think about our world, our Creator, and our responsibilities.
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