I love technology and actually take it as a compliment when someone calls me a Geek so its easy to overlook just how important things like wi-fi, cable television, smart phones, and laptops are in my life until they are taken away. It’s these periods of “technology detox” that help me realize these amazing tools while making life much simpler can actually be lived without.
Last week I attended a conference in Dunedin New Zealand with other missionaries from American, Papua New Guinea, and the Northern Island of New Zealand. This was a great time of fellowship along with teaching from God’s Word which not only encouraged my heart but also gave me a fresh burden to reach and teach the unsaved of Melbourne Australia. Along with those blessings however there was the challenge since at no time during the week did we have free wi-fi access.
The motel where I stayed did have Internet but it cost about ten cents per megabyte so an hour would cost around $5.00. This meant a quick two-minute check of my emails in the morning was the extent of my web surfing for the day. For most people this probably wouldn’t be a problem but for an internet junkie like me this led experiencing withdraw symptoms which involved among other things walking around with my iPod touch looking for any free Internet (my smart phone was left at home which only added to the frustration). After a few days of breaking out into cold sweats over unread tweets I actually got used to not having Internet, mobile phone, or only having four channels on the tv with rabbit ears instead of the digital cable back home (only ended up watching it a few minutes in the morning).
God used my week in Dunedin to remind me how dependent I was on technology, but also revealed its possible to live without it, which is something our culture doesn’t want us to know. Instead society feeds us the exact opposite message “you have to get the latest phone, computer, high-speed Internet, software etc.” I feel things such as the Internet or mobile phones are necessary for daily life in this age of technology but that doesn’t mean we must have the latest or best one. Nor does it mean we should be tethered or connected to our technology in a way where we can never be away from Internet or email. And in the case when we don’t have access to these things we shouldn’t immediately start panicking.
Last week taught me the importance of technology detox becoming a part of our daily lives. For some of you Geeks like me this would start small like not using the Internet, phone, or anything else technology related for a few hours. Take a walk, read a book, catch up with a friend, anything that would allow you to disconnect. In the future you may want to try stepping aside from the one thing you love most (Facebook, twitter, email, blogs) for a day or go on what some people call a social media fast and refuse to use any of these websites for a week or more. The important thing is to use these detox experiences as a normal part of your routine so that when they are lost for an extended period of time you don’t respond with panic like I did.