DIGITAL FAST: Limiting of digital devices except for work usage
It occurs to me that in some ways you and I are more alert than we’ve ever been to the sights and sounds around us. The problem is that we are alert to the sights and sounds of our smartphones and other digital devices. We have rewired our brains to hear every ring, ding, beep and buzz of our digital devices. We have reconfigured our prefrontal cortex to see and recognize every flash, flicker, beam and gleam from our smartphones. We now even have ubiquitous and intrusive robotic presences (chatbots) like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant that permeate our lives as they eavesdrop on our conversations, control our environments and even tell us where to go and how to get there. The second problem of our astuteness to the digital world around us is that these devices can tend to take our attention away from many more important things in our lives. Digital devices make it easier and even socially acceptable to forget our responsibility to connect with the humans around us. We could be regularly missing the facial expressions and emotional cues from those we love because of the sights and sounds of these little digital devices that command such a large swath of our waking lives. So there is a sense in which today’s text is extremely true:
“You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” (Isaiah 42:20)
Go back and read that scripture again. Read it one more time.
There is nothing inherently evil or negative about digital devices. But it might be a good idea to take some breaks from them from time to time. Could it be that we are more in tune with the rings, dings, beeps and buzzes from our digital devices than we are The Voice of God? Or could it be that the flashes, flickers, beams and gleams of our cellphones capture our attention to a greater degree than The Holy Spirit - Who is determined to lead us and guide us into all truth that surrounds our existence? Whatever your answers are to these questions, I’m challenging you to take a break. For one 24-hour period, let’s find ways to lessen our responses to the digital world. Besides the absolute necessities of our work life, let’s unplug from our devices and plug into God and the people around us for 24 hours. And let’s make an assessment of what we’ve learned about ourselves and how we engage the world around us after we’ve done this. Because it just might be that ‘We have seen many things, but we are paying no attention and that our ears are open but we are not really listening.’