Make Time for Silence – A Tech Sabbath

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A post on taking a tech Sabbath over on The Art of Manliness has been challenging me all week. It’s 100% worth the read.

Here are my top three takeaways from this article and some final thoughts…

One – We are consuming a lot of media

  • In 2012 the average American consumed 13.6 hours of media each day. Those numbers are expected to rise. Now, this includes multitasking, so reading email and listing to music allows more than one hour to happen at a time in this report. I’m going to blow your mind though, the 13.6 hours don’t include media consumed AT WORK. This means that every waking hour is pretty much consumed with media. The TV is streaming, we’re on our phones, we’re listening to podcasts, there’s really never a quiet time.
  • While tech has made our lives better, there is a dark side. It can kill productivity, create stress as we’re always reachable by our bosses and coworkers, and it contributes to the fear of missing out. “There’s always something better going on somewhere.” Which leads us to not be present in the place we are.

Two – We are addicted to our content consumption devices

  • A study was done with college students asking them to abstain from media for 24 hours then write about the experience. Many came back admitting that they were, in fact, addicted to their phones and computers. They said they felt restless, bored, anxious, lonely, and isolated. Many, without music, said they were unable to focus without it and that the quiet was deafening.

Three – We need a tech Sabbath

  • A sabbath is something that Jews and some Christians have done. It’s simply observing the seventh day of the week as a day of rest and worship. In this case, the Sabbath isn’t a religious thing, it’s a time of rest, a break from our devices. It’s a chance to be in line at your favorite coffee shop and have good ideas blossom in a mind that’s willing to wander and think. This could be why we get good ideas in the shower, it’s the only place the noise is off.

Here’s a quote from the Art of Manliness article:

How seldom in our day-to-day lives do we make time just to daydream or think? Even if our mind-wandering sessions venture into painful territory (as they are wont to do) that’s quite alright. Spend time sorting through the tangles of your mind, wherever they lead. As Louis CK so astutely puts it, “You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.” If you never let yourself feel completely sad because you’re always pushing that empty feeling away by looking at your phone, says CK, you’ll never feel completely happy either. The Tech Sabbath is your chance to exit this limbo state, where we’re constantly distracting ourselves from our feelings by endlessly surfing from one page to another. It’s a chance to just be present in the moment.

How often do we just experience our day without a podcast playing, music blaring, Twitter rolling by, consuming, consuming, consuming information. Again, going back to when I’m in line at my favorite coffee shop, it’s easy to just pull out the phone and miss out on what is actually happening around us. To miss the song playing, or the interesting interactions happening around us, to hear the good ideas bubbling inside our souls, or to avoid feeling the feelings we’re having. I’m ready to feel life again… Without the little screens that separate us from time with ourselves, time with our friends, and time with our families.

Put that phone away for one day. Your soul needs it.

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