Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Giving Up Distractions--Social Media, Email & the News

I hope everyone is having a good Lent! The next set of distractions I've been working on reducing is social media, email, and the news. I am down to checking each of these only once per day, or at least that is the goal! The first thing I typically do is to log in to my yahoo account and check my email. I've already reduced blogs, newsletters, and the like that I subscribe to, so there typically isn't too much for me to go through. I immediately delete whatever I don't need. I cancel subscriptions to things I don't wish to receive; or maybe I did want to receive them, but I realize that I just don't have time to deal with it at the rate that it comes in.

My yahoo inbox will usually lead me to Facebook notifications, so I deal with those next. I respond to any ongoing conversations on my wall or in groups. Occasionally I scroll through my news feed. When I've closed out of my email, the yahoo news page comes up. I quickly look at the headlines. If something looks really interesting, I click on it. I'd say at least 90% of the stories are junk. I know all the political features are biased, so I rarely read them.

I spend no more than a half hour in the morning with these three items. Now, sometimes I might check back with Facebook or email if I'm expecting an important message, but most days I keep this process to once a day. Then I am FREE the rest of the day from having to think about or react to anything I read or see. This makes it difficult to get caught up in any arguments on social media, if you have to wait until the next day to revisit it! I'm not a member of Twitter. This week my goal is to check my media only 3 times the entire week. Today was one! I want to be weaned down to nothing for Holy Week, so I will have no media distractions during that important time.

We don't have TV reception at my house, so I don't watch the news. If you do have TV, try not to watch more that one news program a day. When I did have TV, the same news was repeated all day long. There was a Netflix show that I was watching too often, but I finished all the seasons last week, and I'm picking up no new shows. I listen to Catholic Radio probably no more than half an hour, maybe 4 or 5 times per week. Try not listening to the radio at all when you're in the car! Oh, I don't have a "smart phone," so I don't have that temptation. If you do, consider setting serious limits there as well.

The thing to recognize is that checking our electronic media is habitual, even compulsive. It can be a way of escaping whatever it is that we ought to be doing or would be better off engaging in--like conversations with family members, visiting in person with friends and relatives, prayer and meditation, exercise, spiritual reading, good books, and clearing clutter. Virtual life has replaced real living. We must get our priorities straight, put first things first. One of the best things we can do for our children is to role model good habits! Remember, Lent is our time in the desert.

I'd love to hear about how you are reducing your distractions this Lent!

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