Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Trial Separation

For the next thirty (30) days, Adam and I will have a trial separation.....from television!! (hope we didn't scare anyone out there). The title was designed to grab your attention and distract you from what you are doing. Is that not exactly what television does? So many times at night, we will curl up at dinner to watch a cooking show like "Chopped" or "House Hunters International," but the preview for the next show will lure us into watching one more.

I am not saying that television is intrinsically evil or morally unsound, we just feel that it is beginning to encroach on our time that would be better spent elsewhere. We have set new goals that we want to realize this year, but goals always imply a strategy.

Ironically, we were watching a TV special last night when we came to our decision. It reported Americans' growing dependency on technology to arguably unhealthy levels. The question was posed, "Are you in charge of your BlackBerry or is your BlackBerry in charge of you?" What began as an innovation for convenience has grown into an invasion of boundaries and information overload. I learned a new term called "e-mail bankruptcy." According to Wikipedia, "email bankruptcy is a term used to identify or explain a decision to close an email account or to delete all messages older than a certain date, due to an overwhelming receipt of garbage messages compared to legitimate messages." Subsequently, a message is sent explaining the problem and relating that if a response is still required, to resend the message. The news story was reporting that even business professionals have occasionally invoked this alternative upon returning to work after vacation due to the sheer inundation of emails.

It is undeniable that our culture is socially integrated by technology. Accidentally leaving your cell phone at home will trigger that same sick feeling you have from misplacing your purse or wallet. It has become a part of our identity. I recently read a compelling article titled, A social-media addict tries to disconnect. She chronicles her commitment to unplug for the week.

It really got us thinking about incremental tolerances that we have accepted as a part of our normal routine. Although sitting shoulder to shoulder watching TV together is cozy and comforting, it does not facilitate our growth as a couple. If we are jogging together, or at a restaurant face to face, the likelihood of engaging in quality conversation is much greater than if we are willing captives to an electronic screen.

Perhaps TV consumes more of our time than we think. A few years ago, Neilsen Media research reported that the average American watches 4 hours of television a day. This translates into five full days a month, two months a year, and an astonishing nine years by the time you turn 65. This number has only trended upwards. In 2010, Neilsen Research found that Americans watch 34 hours of television a week, or over 4.8 hours a day.

What could you do with all this extra time? A month from now, we will let you know how it has impacted us. Ask God what He would have you "fast" for a season. It could be Facebook, getting up an hour earlier, or simply letting your cell phone go to voicemail for an hour or two.

Joel 2:25, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust. My great army which I sent among you." (NKJV)


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