July 14, 2013

Free to Choose = Self Control

Who would have thought that my ability to choose will eventually teach me self control! Those two words, choice and control, don't seem to be related, but they are.

We've had a pretty good amount of focus made on addiction, specifically pornography in our church congregation lately.  I was asked to give a lesson on it (warning signs, prevention, etc) which provided me an opportunity do to a lot of research.  During my study, I came across one source that gave this list as signs of digital overload:

10 Signs of Digital Overload

  1. Slipping away from activities with people to check e-mail or social networking sites.
  2. Checking the same sites repeatedly within a short period of time.
  3. Spending little time outside.
  4. Finding it hard to complete a task such as writing a report without frequently breaking away to check e-mail or unrelated websites.
  5. Spending little time in face-to-face interactions with friends.
  6. Going online or using a digital device when you feel stressed or want to avoid an unpleasant task.
  7. Family members spending most of their time at home in separate rooms interacting with screens.
  8. Frequently using digital devices to entertain a child instead of talking, singing, playing, or reading with him or her.
  9. Checking the computer first thing in the morning, or getting up during the night to use digital devices.

  10. Spending long stretches of time surfing for content, often viewing content that is inappropriate or borderline.
I don't think any person can read this list without identifying with at least one of these, even if just partially.  While this list may be related to signs of a pornography addiction, I viewed it in the way the title suggests...DIGITAL OVERLOAD.

As I completed preparations for the lesson I was to give, and finally shared it with other women at church, this bit of information continued to linger in my mind.  It's only obvious why.  I will be the first to admit that I am overloaded digitally.  

At the time, I committed right away to cutting back.  Thankfully, the same source didn't leave me hangin'...they gave another list on ways to cut back:

10 Ways to Cut Back
  1. Check and answer e-mail only once or twice a day, at scheduled times.
  2. Use social networking sites only at scheduled times and for a set number of minutes.
  3. Practice a “digital Sabbath”—setting aside one or two days each week to “unplug.”
  4. Leave your cell phone in another room during time with family or friends.
  5. Call instead of texting.
  6. Invite children to help search the house for supplies that can be used in nondigital activities: children’s books, board games, art supplies, and equipment for outside play.
  7. Organize a talent show, art show, or service project with family or friends.
  8. Use Internet-blocking software to keep on task while working.
  9. Limit recreational surfing; watch TV and videos selectively and intentionally.
  10. Keep a gospel-centered perspective, using technology to uplift yourself and people around you.
I decided to focus on #2 and #3.  Things were going great!  I felt more productive, granted I think I manage most things fairly decent already.  I keep a tidy house (notice I didn't say clean...don't look too close or you'll see I haven't cleaned my tub in a while) and maintain other responsibilities pretty well too.  What I mean is, I don't think I am overly neglectful, but I did notice an increase in meaningful one on one activities with each of my boys.  

I'd say I made it about 2 weeks with more structured online time and none on Sunday, but then I got reeled right back in. I won't bore you with the details of how, but that initially I was trying to help someone out, and be thrifty at the same time (both good things right?)  I told myself once this little "project" was done I would go right back to the structure that I enjoyed.  You see, it started out innocent, but then it became so easy to justify a little more digital time.

So here I am several weeks after my project ended and I'm finding it hard to cut back

I will never be that person who deactivates accounts (FB, just so we're all on the same page).  Here's why:
  • Not only does it seem extreme, but I believe I will benefit more as an individual and develop stronger character by learning self control.  Moderation in all things is key.  Besides, doesn't it sounds like what Satan wanted to do in the beginning?  He wanted to take away peoples agency and make them follow God. If I remove the "problem" completely then I have no choice, no opportunity to practice self control, and inevitably lose the good that can come from it when used in moderation.  
  • Good can come from digital resources.  Some of the positive ways I choose to utilize them include:  sharing what I know about Jesus Christ and His Gospel, recounting fun and exciting things about being a mom which helps me look on the bright side when mommying gets tough, and nourishing important  family relationships of those who are not near me.  
  • I have been able to keep tabs on ladies in my church congregation.  This has proven very helpful time and time again as I have a responsibility to make sure each woman in my church has their needs met.  It is next to impossible to know every woman's needs, the trials she is facing, or even her triumphs.  A simple Facbook status update can tell me when someone is sick, struggling to make it through school, or just needs a little pick-me-up.
This is where I say how I'm going to get back to where I was in moderating my media use...the thing is, I can't really say.  I keep putting it of for a "better" day, but I've decided that now is the time!  

In the midst of writing this I have successfully completely my second go around, first digital sabbath from FB.  I've filled my day with wonderful things to do and I can't wait till tomorrow when I can practice self control.

Along with a few other stipulations I won't bore you with, I have decided for now to restrict myself to use FB only when both boys are napping.  The catch is, there is always a million things I would like to do or need to do during that time.  I'm going to have to decide what is most important, tackle what I need to do first, and then if there is time left over; I can relax and veg however I choose.  

Here's to some progress on the self control voyage! 

 What have you found helpful in moderating your digital time...or anything for that matter?

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. I really think all social networking sites can be wonderful and very good uses of our time, but the problem is that they can, as we use them in excess, distract us from doing what is BEST. I agree about deactivating. I feel about the same way with that as I do my sugary-sweet free weeks or months. Sure I feel great during the time, but after the a lotted 'cleanse' is over, I tend to gorge myself. It's is better to just learn discipline and self control in ALL aspects of your life.