Wake up to the alarm on my cell phone, open my computer to check facebook and my email, get ready for the day while watching TV, drive to work while checking my words with friends, get to work and open my work email, sit at a computer all day while listening to music and podcasts on my phone, check my facebook and email on my phone during my lunch break, get home and get on my personal computer and check facebook and my email, spend a good majority of the night watching TV whilst reading articles online, watching YouTube videos, and chatting online. Oh did I mention that I was texting during this whole process too.
Do you see a pattern in here? The whole day I am constantly barraged with multiple sources of entertainment, media, information, distractions. It’s hard to find a moment when I am not connected to at least one source of digital media and for at many times I am connected to multiple sources of digital media. Does this sound at all slightly familiar to your life? To some degree it probably does.
When do we find time to digest and process all of this information? I find myself knowing a little bit about everything but knowing little about anything. Most topics in the news I can at least acknowledge that I have heard or read something about it but yet I find myself unable to articulate intelligent thoughts about those topics. I feel our society has grown too attached to digital media. I find myself and others checking our phones when we know there is nothing to check but yet we flip through the screens falsely deceiving ourselves and others around us that we are busy and productive. Why do we do this?
I have heard the counsel many times from church leaders and others that we need to unplug ourselves from the media. I believe it was Gordon B Hinckley who encouraged us to take a few hours to simply ponder and do nothing else. I have understood this principle but yet I have fallen trapped to the snare of digital media and have found myself with little time to ponder. Detaching ourselves from media gives us time to process the information we have already received. That helps us to gain a more deeper and intimate understanding of that information and it helps us to more clearly articulate that information to others. Also taking time to ponder helps us understand what is important to us in life, it helps us sort out our goals and emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
The times when I read a book, read an article, listen to a talk, or whatever and then take some time afterwards to go over what I had just received, the ideas and information become clearer and I am able to understand, recall, and articulate that information more effectively. It’s a refreshing and great experience unlike the hundreds of news flashes and facebook posts I go through in a day, which I usually end up not internalizing or remembering. It makes me want to do a Walden Pond type retreat like Thoreau.
I encourage all of you to take some time each day to turn off the TV, cell phone, and computer and sit down and just think about life, think about something you learned that day, think about how you feel in your current situation, and think about the lives of others around you.