Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seriously considering my use of internet. It’s not that I feel addicted to the internet or deem its use irresponsible, but it’s more along the lines of, “What am I missing because of how much I use the internet?”
I am part of the Internet Generation. I remember in the early 90’s when my elementary school first taught us how to use those fabled sites called Search Engines, and how they were the portal to anything we needed to find on the internet. I’m not sure if “Webcrawler” or “Excite” even exist anymore. But if you think of it, these were the first few steps towards knowing what a “Google” is or how to “Wiki” something (by the way, it’s ironic that Google and Wiki aren’t even picked up on my spell checker). The internet has grown to be so integrated in our lives that many younger people don’t even know what a rolodex is, and if you asked them how you use one, they’d look at you with a blank stare.
I mean when’s the last time you used a phone book to look up a phone number? Need an address? Google it. Need directions? Google it. Need a recipe? Google it. We’ve even gotten to the point where we can have any book, magazine, or album instantly. If I want to read a book I have two options, iTunes audio book or Amazon’s Kindle. If I want to listen to the new Project 86 album, I can buy it on iTunes, order it through any number of websites, or listen song-by-song on YouTube (again, YouTube isn’t picked up by spell check either). I no longer have to drive down to the music store and buy the CD/tape/record, I can instantly access it via the internet (which raises other questions as to what that’s doing to our mom-and-pop shops and our small towns’ main streets, but I won’t go into that now). So my question is, do I really need the internet that much?
There are many different positive aspects to the internet. I’m sure for every negative aspect of the internet you can find a correlating positive, but that’s beside the point. During this Christmas season I’ve been thinking a lot about Christ (as I should be). And to be perfectly honest, you shouldn’t think about Christ’s birth without also thinking about his death (you know, the reason he came in the first place). I REALLY got in the Lent/Easter mood when I was asked by our youth’s Compassion Child about how we celebrate Easter. Now my family never really gave up anything for Lent. It was in the back of our minds, and it usually ended with me not drinking pop (also known as soda or soda pop for my non-Minnesotan readers, Coke for my southern readers) for a few weeks And the purpose of the fasting was never even a blip on the radar when The Great Pop Famines were happening. So I decided this year, I’m going to take Lent seriously.
I thought about the biggest luxury in my life that could be reevaluated. And as you probably guessed, I’ve decided that the internet has to go. What I’m planning and committing to is a “Great Internet Fast” for Lent. I know a lot of people use the internet for work, as do I. So if it’s work-related, it’s okay. But I’m committing to (and hopefully some of you too) 40 days of no internet as entertainment. This means, no blogging, no Facebook, no Wikipedia games, no Podcasts, and no CNN.com (God forbid we might have to actually buy one of those—what do you call them?—oh yeah, newspapers).
But instead of just cutting out the internet, we have to include something else. All of a sudden we’re going to have a bunch of free time that can be devoted to other things. If we just leave it at cutting the internet out, more than likely we’re going to insert some other form of filler, and we will miss out on the purpose of the fast. So what could we add? How about committing to prayer, worship, family time, or any other form of personal investment into the life of others in lieu of the internet time? Remember the purpose of fasting is to cut out the distractions of life so that we can concentrate on prayer and worship.
So this is my commitment, 40 Days sans Internet.