Inspiration Short #15: Do a media fast

by Danielle Charles

It really alarms me when I take a moment to reflect on how much of my life is spent in front of a computer or television. Not that all the time spent engaged in such activities has been bad – I love a good movie as much as anyone, and who can deny that the computer allows us access to so much great information and such a huge community of people? But honestly, I think I could really do without all those hours looking at other people’s pictures and lives on Facebook, or googling such and such just because I am bored. Just imagine how those minutes add up – I probably could’ve written the novel I’m always thinking about in that time!

I was just such reflecting that led my husband and myself to decide to pull the plug on our television and computers this past week (or at least using the computer ONLY for work and research). The first night,  I drove home from work thinking of how I could use a good laugh – and then felt just the slightest rise of panic when I realized there would be no Seinfeld DVDs or Monty Python to pull me through. We aren’t television addicts by any means in our house – days often pass where the TV sits collecting dust – but we use it enough that it was a crutch and a coping mechanism for unwinding and de-stressing at the end of hard days, and the absence was surely felt.

So what to do when there is no prospect of zoning out for some semi-mindless entertainment? Well, we got a pile of books from the library and began reading to each other in the evening (Sherlock Holmes in fact! – very suspenseful, I was in no want of entertainment with that). I worked on my knitting (a scarf that has been nearly two years in the making now), took long hot baths, and wrote in my journal. Suddenly I found I was doing all those little things that normally I told myself I didn’t have time for. Indeed I was amazed at how much extra time I had! I felt less stressed, slightly sharper in my wits and processed a sense of inner calm. Life felt somehow simpler.

Today our fast ends, but I can’t say that I’m in a rush to turn the TV back on, or log into my Facebook account. I’ve come to enjoy the extra time I have – the sense of quiet and clear-headedness – the gentle notion of being present in my own life. And, I just can’t wait to find out what happens next in dear old 221B Baker street…

So, from trying it myself, I urge you all to try it too. Hide the remote, unplug the television, cover it with a sheet – whatever you have to do – and use the computer only for the most pertinent work related activities (no YouTube, Facebook or shoe shopping allowed). Avoid the news on the radio, and just be in your life and nowhere else. I think you’ll find that the latest bomb explosion, the status updates on Facebook or the latest episode of your favorite show are really not that important after all.