Going Dark by Jill Richardson
A few weeks ago, my phone required a reset in hopes it would respond better to its master. Afterward, I realized that all my notifications had been turned off. No little red bubbles reminded me that someone had liked my facebook post or retweeted my genius. I started to turn them on again, but then . . . I didn’t.
And I haven’t since.
I know I get tired of 24/7 availability. As a pastor, it’s my life. As a writer, it’s a major distraction. While I type this, I can hear a “ding” that insists I check the latest email in case it’s something like a book contract or a “you just won” message. (It wasn’t.)
Writers aren’t immune to the 24/7 availability of the modern world. In fact, we may be more susceptible to the electronic siren song, since our livelihood relies on being social media savvy. I mean, I have to be on Facebook for professional reasons. I am absolutely not spending my time watching Randy Rainbow videos.
Having to be “on” all the time affects our mental health, our time management, even our brain function according to studies. Returning an email, answering a text, keeping up that snapchat streak, posting that photo of what I #amwriting—even though I’m not because, well, I’m on Instagram—it all has to be done immediately so we can feel that adrenaline rush of validation that someone, somewhere in cyberland, thinks we’re worthwhile.
This month, I’ve been concentrating on silence. I’ve accidentally discovered I like not knowing someone noticed me. Without the red bubbles, I can come to social media on my own terms, when I want to. I tested “moderately addicted” to electronics, and honestly, I’m not OK with that. So—
- I’ve left those notifications off. I feel freer not hearing a “boop” when I’m working. There is no immediate anxiety about not answering. I love you—but I’ll get to you later.
- I’ve turned the computer on mute. I turned email off. (I have never turned email off.) I won’t know if that contract comes in, but I think that’s OK.
- I closed Facebook. Yep, it’s usually an always-open tab. You know—to save time. Not this month.
- I’ve decided social media will no longer be an interruption to my sacred time—whether that’s writing, devotions, or human contact. I won’t apologize for not answering texts and emails if I’m doing something sacred. This iPhone is not the boss of me.
- I’ve taken a Sabbath from electronics on Sundays. (Except, of course, that while I preach on being quiet and escaping the noise I am on Facebook live. I recognize the irony. Whatever.) For one day, I am not in demand and I can truly rest mentally, the most needed rest in our world.
What about you? What steps are you taking not to be available 24/7? I’d love to hear them. Unless, of course, I #amwriting. In that case, I won’t be here.
Jill Richardson is a writer, speaker, pastor, mom of three, and author of five books. She likes to travel, grow flowers, and break into random musical numbers. Jill has a BA from Washington University in English and Secondary Education, an MDiv from Bethel University, and is currently pursuing a DMin.