I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Internet Fast


Hey, Heidi here. Remember me? Okay, so I’ve been away for a while—away on what you might call an “Internet Fast.” In September, 2013, I attended the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. It was a great conference, but I came home a little bit discouraged. I was frustrated with my writing—or more specifically, my seeming lack of discipline regarding my writing. It was a struggle to focus on anything, and the fact that I was working on my BA in English made it that much more difficult to get anything done as all my “writing energy” went into papers and other projects. I lost hours to the Internet. I would check in on Facebook, and then suddenly, two or three hours were gone, either to mindless scrolling through my feed or to crafting “politically correct” posts and responses to avoid offending anyone. (It is impossible, by the way…no matter what you post, SOMEONE will find a reason to be offended!)

At the same time, my husband encouraged (read: nagged) me to write a book about our accident and subsequent journey. I didn’t want to write a book about it…it was hard enough to write blog posts here and there, but to dig it ALL up and put it on paper? Forget it! Then he told me he believed that God wanted me to write it, and until I did, He wasn’t going to let me write anything else. Now let me be clear: my husband does NOT throw around the “God told me to tell you” card often. So when he does, I’ve discovered it’s in my best interest (and his) to listen. So I decided to put aside my fiction projects and work on telling our story. Initially it was very slow-going because of my attention span. Due to the head injury I sustained in the accident, my attention span is ridiculously short, so sitting down to focus on writing is a chore. I feel so bad for kids with ADD or ADHD who have to sit in a classroom all day; it’s torture!

So, I prayed. And I felt God pointing to the amount of time I could sit still to focus on Facebook or Pinterest, and I knew what needed to be done. So, I sent out a mass email to let my friends know that I was going to take some time away from the Internet and Social Media to concentrate on finishing my degree and getting my story on paper. It is interesting to note that one of my last blogs before my "fast" was about my inability to avoid Internet Time Thieves, so it was obvious I needed to do something drastic.

I ended up taking all of 2014 almost completely free of the World Wide Web. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was required to be online for my college courses, but I had the majority of my materials printed out and I worked mostly offline.) At first it was agonizing to not know every last detail about my 675 Facebook friends. And it took a few months before my brain cleared the Facebook Fog. I had no idea, but it turns out, I was addicted to Facebook! “Hi, my name is Heidi Geis and I’m a Facebook Junkie.” That’s kind of scary!!

Sometimes, in those first few months, I would peer over my husband’s shoulder as he scrolled through his feed, and I made him tag me in many of the photos he posted. But after a while, I didn’t care. I mean, obviously I still cared about my friends, just not so much about their food or pets, their reactions to sporting events, or their political/religious opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve posted a ton of food/pet pictures, and I can be fairly opinionated, but in the grand scheme of things, none of it really matters. And whether we want to admit it or not, we spend so much time "like-ing" the status and photos of people we barely know or haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years or who we’ve never even actually met in person, while neglecting the people next door or at our church or right under our roof.

So, am I saying that we should all leave Facebook and never look back? Absolutely not! Facebook can be a valuable tool. It’s been fun to get back in touch with high school and college friends and to thank my favorite teacher for her encouragement in 9th grade English. It’s a pleasure to follow my writing friends and their newest projects and then share them with some of my other friends who might not otherwise know about them. I love that my husband’s family 1100 miles away can see what we’re up to at the click of a mouse (and vice versa) and that Facebook made it possible for Grandma and Grandpa to watch our boys grow into men over the past seven years of posts and pictures.

What I am saying is that Facebook cannot take the place of class reunions, writing conferences, and family vacations. As Facebook’s own video declares, “some friends you have to tag in person.” We absolutely must strive to make real human connections whenever possible. And, if you’re like me, learn to use Facebook in moderation.

Your turn: Could you take a year away from the Internet? Would you even want to?


Image from blogs.constantcontact.com

3 comments:

  1. Well-done and well-written, Heidi--thanks. I doubt I could do that but will speak it softly so God doesn't ask. I'm thrilled w/ your accomplishments during that time, though, and with the open doors coming. Can't wait to hear wonderful things & congrats on finishing your degree, too. Congrats now w/ lots more to come and Full Speed Ahead!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so proud of you, Heidi! I don't know that I could do a Facebook fast, mainly because I do so much of my research and to not click on FB while I'm researching would require more restraint that I possess. :-)

    This is an excellent post and I'm going spread it around!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations, Heidi! You have accomplished what few could! And welcome back now that you've done it!

    ReplyDelete