I’m returned from my trip about a week and a half ago, and since I didn’t write down any of the ideas which came to me while I was away, I have forgotten all of them. Would Socrates be proud or ashamed? Probably he would feel vindicated.
That’s not the only reason I haven’t blogged since my return, however. It seems that, while I was away, I developed a case of what I have begun to call grid poisoning.
I have a laptop and a smartphone, and I think that they are both gifts from God for the work of the kingdom and for my enjoyment. However, I occasionally go through phases where I am checking my social media and favorite internet haunts more often, and this sometimes produces a bit of an internet addiction. When this happens, I become incredibly attached to my phone, checking Facebook and Twitter constantly, looking at different meme sites throughout the day, and salivating like Pavlov’s dog whenever I hear that little notification ding.
Now, that’s not exactly wrong, in itself. I don’t think of the above paragraph as a description of grid poisoning, necessarily. Grid poisoning takes a step further. It is characterized by two things in particular- a need for novelty, and an unhealthy dependance.
When I get this addicted to being plugged in, I develop a need to see, hear, or read new things constantly. They don’t have to be good, or funny, or profound in any way- they just have to be new. I will scroll Twitter endlessly, just looking for things I haven’t seen before. Old things, things I know well, don’t satisfy. This is a problem because “things I know well” is a list that includes such items as close friends, my Bible, and all my interests. These lose their appeal because they aren’t new enough. That’s what I mean when I say grid poisoning (for me) is characterized by this need for novelty.
Possibly worse than that is the unhealthy dependence on the grid that I develop. When struck by grid poisoning, my phone is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at before I go to bed at night. It is my go-to when I am bored, or have a single moment of down-time. No thinking, no praying, no meditating- just the beautiful unearthly glow of the screen. It’s truly unhealthy.
Can you identify with me? I know I’m not the only believer who struggles with this.
Obviously (I hope it’s obvious) this is a problem, one I am prayerfully trying to deal with. So far, I have a few solutions that I have come up with. None of these gets at the heart issue; that’s a different post. These are just tiny logistical things, but ones which can helpful, if done in a spirit of prayer and reliance upon God. Here we go:
First, I have deleted my Facebook app from my phone along with that most pervasive of evils, Angry Birds. Twitter isn’t as much a problem, and I see a lot of good stuff on Twitter, but it knows that it is on probation, and will delete it if it becomes a time-sucker.
Second, I no longer sleep with my phone right next to my bed. I still use it as my alarm, but I place it on the other side of the room, and sometimes turn on airplane mode so I won’t receive any notifications at night.
Third, I have resolved that my Bible will be the first thing I read in the morning, and the last thing I read at night. This way, my addiction to the grid helps me, because when I wake up and the first thing I want to do is check my email, I know that I need to read my Bible first, and usually upon opening it I find it so much more satisfying than my phone, so the spell is broken.
Like I said up at the top, I think that the internet, social media, and these electronic devices are good, and are given my God for the promotion of his glory and the good of his people. But like all good things, they can be twisted. I don’t want that to happen, and I confess that it has happened too frequently.
If you’re with me on this, then I hope these suggestions have been helpful. And if you have any more logistical tips for breaking the addiction, leave them in the comments below- thanks.