The season of Lent is upon us, and whether you agree with its liturgical roots or not, I would hope most can see the value in a period of self-denial. Perhaps current American culture is unique in history with its ability and capacity to avoid pain and seek pleasure. (This is not to say we are any more inclined to that behavior than our ancestors, just that we have more resources with which to do it.) Yet we’re all discontent, despite our physical needs being met. Thus, I think a season of intentionally forsaking a luxury, comfort, or diversion is very valuable.
For this year, I have decided to do an information fast. You may be asking, “What is that?” I got the idea from a book called The Information Diet. I haven’t read the book, but I heard an interview with the author. His general premise is that the Internet has given us an over-abundance of information at our fingertips, similarly to how fast-food gives us excess calories with no effort. As someone who makes a living on technology, this was hard for me to admit at first, but in the past couple of months I have most certainly seen the fruit of what the author refers to.
The StrengthsFinder evaluation listed three of my top five strengths as Input, Learner, and Intellection. This indicates that I do best when I have a constant flow of information. If I’m able to be constantly learning and thinking about things, I feel energized. My online habits have certainly reinforced this, particularly since getting my first Android phone last year. So many things require my attention! There is Facebook, Google Plus, Google Reader (which aggregates numerous blogs), various news sites, and a few other things that I found myself checking probably a dozen times a day. Is there a lull in the action? Better pull out the ol’ phone and check on some stuff. Too quiet? I wonder what’s going on in Facebook world.
I began to notice that I couldn’t stand the quiet. I used to be able to enjoy it, but my world is full of so much noise (both aural and visual), that I became accustomed to always having “input,” even if it wasn’t even constructive or positive. The comments I read on any news story would remind me how broken this world is. Scanning over volumes of status updates did the same. Even though I rarely got anything positive from all of these channels, I kept going back.
And so, for the forty days leading up to Good Friday, I am going to do an information fast. No social networks, no blogs, no news sites, no forums, no podcasts. It boggles my mind to think how much time I spend on all of those things and what else could be done with such time to focus. Personal communications are still allowed, as the goal is to wade from the raging river of information in which I live and find some solitude on the banks instead. Perhaps God has something to say to me if I would only quiet all the noise around me. See you all at the resurrection.