Monday, February 16, 2015

Stop worshiping the god of technology: ideas for Lent

Before I dive into the post, I want to be clear that I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with technology.  In fact, I've counted it among some of the things for which I am most grateful.

However, our use of technology, our reactions to its addictive pulls, our time spent (or wasted) is something to be wrestled with - a delicate balance of consuming information and staying connected that, I daresay, none of us have completely mastered.  With the rapid speed of technological advancement, we all struggle to figure out what this new world looks like for our lives, for our homes, and for our children.  I realized that as I've wrestled with these questions and my own response, some component of technology has been involved in my Lenten sacrifices for at least 10 years (was I really a college sophomore that long ago?!) 

Aren't there days when we allow these technologies to surpass the true God in terms of our attention and our desires and our emotional connection (cue the rising panic when the little icon in the corner informs us that a connection can't be made).

We worship our newsfeeds, and find our comfort in the glowing screen.  We suddenly have "no time" for prayer and feel completely disconnected from the true Source of comfort and refreshment and wisdom.

Perhaps you feel surprised by your own obsession with checking your phone or the rate at which you "just need to check your email."  Perhaps you've felt like a hamster in a technological wheel that you just can't get off.  Perhaps you simply want to be sure that the one true God is the one true God of your heart.

I bring to you an (non-exhaustive) list of ideas of ways to cut back on your dependence on technology and restore a little self-control in this area.  Obviously, everyone's situations are different, and the extent to which we truly need our email or our phones varies, and our temptation are different, too.  But here are some ideas - some small and some drastic - to stop worshiping the god of technology this Lent (or anytime!)  Some are intentional changes about where and when to use technology, some are just ideas to make yourself more aware of your own screen use/dependence, and some are just common-sense ways to be more human and less robot.

(and one more time for those who were distracted by their Facebook notifications the first time I said it...this isn't a vendetta against the use of computers or phones.  I don't hate technology, I just hate the way we allow it to control us).

- Just because it's a laptop doesn't mean it needs to be on your lap - plug the computer in on a desk somewhere and stop carrying it around the house whereever you are.

- Charge your phone in the kitchen and not your nightstand.  They make stand-alone alarm clocks.  Start your day by checking in with God and not with your newsfeed.

- Carry a rosary or a prayer book in the pocket where you usually keep your phone.  

- Give up one (or more) social media accounts for Lent

- Set a timer, and log off when it dings.

- Buy a watch so that checking the time doesn't involve diving down a rabbit hole on your phone.

- Turn off notifications

- Make Sunday a "no technology" day.  The world will still be there when you come back.

- Keep a notepad on top of your (closed) laptop.  When you think of something you "need" to look up "right away," write it down and check the whole list later  

- Install an app or program to measure your time online or alert you when you've reached your limit 

- Initiate a "no screens after dark" rule in your house

- Write someone a letter instead of a text or Facebook message

- Give up a favorite show or a favorite blog for some time in prayer or Adoration

- Print out the recipes or craft instructions or whatever information you keep looking up online, if only to save yourself from the distractions each time you look for it.

- Don't turn on your phone/computer until you've said your morning prayers (or, attended daily Mass)

- Turn off "auto log-in" on social media sites - the added time of needing to type in your username and password sometimes wakes you up when you're mindlessly clicking

- Set a religious image to the background of your phone or computer.  Bonus points if it directly reminds you to disconnect and talk to God.  (Mine is this one).

- Make a list of the things you know you'd rather do than waste time online, and put it on a sticky note on your computer or phone.

- Just. log. off.

What other suggestions do you have?  Are you ready to spend a little less time with technology and a little more time with God?  I haven't decided exactly what my plans are, but I know at least a few of these will be incorporated!

After I had typed 75% of this post & list, I thought to myself, hey, I bet the marvelous Meg has something to say about this.  She does.


  1. What a wonderful post Emily! Could I share some of your insight on my blog? I would be happy to link back to yours. Hope all is going well there. Have a blessed Lent.

  2. Your previous post has had me thinking about this so much! I'm going to have two social media days a week and also read only paper books during lent. If I really need it we have an old school kindle with no internet on it. I also try to only check email at certain times a day for limited amounts of time. I love these ideas, thanks Emily!

  3. Thanks for this post. I've been aware that I need to give up something technology-related during Lent, but I didn't have a very clear idea of what I would do. This has given me more direction!

  4. Ah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Part of my issue is the fact that I spend SO much time sitting and nursing the baby or rocking him because he will not be put down, but I could very easily be reading a book instead of scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and passively entertaining myself! I'm deleting the time-wasting game I have, and going dark (as much as possible - still have to figure out what's going to be allowed!) on Fridays.