If any of you read our Learning Room post on Henry David Thoreau, then you know that this study spurred something in our family. Living simply and sustainably has been a goal of ours for quite some time. We would love nothing more then to buy some land, grow and preserve our own food, and move a step back from what society says is normal and healthy. And, to a point, we are doing just that through planning and saving for land within our budget, learning how to garden and starting the process of preserving our own food, ridding our life of unneeded chemicals and cleaning naturally, cloth diapering and breastfeeding our children, ridding ourselves of a microwave, etc.
But how close are we really to that goal? How enmeshed into society and current culture are we still? How many technological doodads do we have that suck away our time through – what the professionals call – screentime?
We have this beautiful huge widescreen T.V. (not of our own choosing) that only has basic cable on it. No MTV/reality show theatrics of inappropriate nature go before our children’s eyes. No commercials between Nick Jr., Disney, or Noggin cartoons to entice our children’s desire. Only wholesome PBS, educational shows that teach while they entertain. We have no current Wii system to contend with, not even a Play Station. Our kids are not allowed to run whatever games they want on the computer and the their educational computer games and for-fun Nintendo Mario games are limited within boundaries. We avoid normal T.V. primetime hours (7-9ish) as a family because even basic channels are too risqué for what we want our children to be absorbing, even subconsciously while playing beside us while mom and dad have downtime.
But, despite the careful monitoring, our kids are still being pulled along by technology. All Gabe can think about is the next Mario fix. It permeates his thoughts, his conversation, his school work. And the younger kids find themselves in front of the television beyond what is actually healthy for them, even if it is in the name of education, often in the form of a babysitter while mom is busy with the older students. Adam has found himself sucked into the time-wasting, gossipy, self-promoting, witty comments of Facebook. And I…well, even I have been pulled along in despite of myself. More of my hours have been spent on well-meaning educational research (a link leading to a link leading to a link…you know how it goes) then actually implementing the wonderful educational tools right under my nose. And how many times have I done the, “Uhuh, that’s nice dear” routine as a kid was seeking my attention and I was too caught up in what was happening on the computer screen? How many of my hours could have been spent playing with them, reading to them…things I long to do but never “seem” to have time for?
So, our plan: to give up on technology and ALL screentime for a full month. That means no T.V., no computer, no video games, and Adam will give up his cell phone. We will use the month to get back in touch with what’s really important ~ spending time together as a family, playing together, reading together, rediscovering hobbies, and working on developing good character traits and work habits.
Our purpose is not to condemn others who watch T.V. or use Facebook or the Internet (all useful tools when used properly), rather it is a reflective look at ourselves. What motivates our actions? What draws us to this screentime? What is the condition of our hearts? Isn’t that what the Lord desires most in us ~ our hearts? I think we are so busy filling our lives up with things and escapism entertainment that we never even pause to consider the condition of our heart. So I will take this time to journal ~ old-fashioned pen and paper journaling ~ how we do end up spending our time and how this project affects us. I think we may be very surprised at the answers we find. The obvious will be the time gain and quality gain of family life. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be harder on us adults then we think it will be. There will be times of silence that will force us to deal with ourselves. No distractions means no excuses.
So for one month, starting tomorrow ~ Monday, April 19th ~ until 4 weeks from today ~ Monday, May 17th ~ we will give up on technology and take a step back to a simpler time. This means no emails. I will try and set up appointments and playdates in advance, but if you really need to get a hold of us, you can always call my cell (our only home phone connection that we will be disconnecting in July and reverting back to good ol phone jacks) or you’ll just have to drop by. Remember when people used to do that? I will post again here on the 17th. Until then the blogosphere will have to go on without me. Adam officially took down his Facebook site and will only be using the computer to type a story if it’s due for the Reader/El Perico magazine, otherwise it will be powered down. Since we are using this time as a school break/get-the-gardening-in, even I will be off the computer for everything including journaling and researching. My research will have to take place with a physical trip to the library and my journaling with have to be done with a trusty pen and notebook! And we will be monitoring our OPPD bill to find out just how wasteful our normal technological habits are concerning electricity.
Feel free to leave your comments here (will check back one more time this evening before powering down and then again in a month and will respond to all) about what your thoughts are. And, if any of you feel even slightly brave, I challenge you also to take the challenge with us and report back in a month how it affected your life – for positive or negative!
Now, let the games begin!