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Technology vs. Tangibility
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Every season of Lent is different for me, I try to challenge myself and my limits in ways that seem do-able while requiring a smidgen of willpower on my part. This year, I wanted to try something new. I’ve done the restrictive diet for Lent … no sugar, no caffeine, no red meat for 40 days. I’ve prayed extra for others and myself, I’ve journaled and devoted more time to the outdoors … what was something new I could do? What could I do differently while challenging myself, whilst also living more intentionally….?
The answer for me this year was to give up social media and to use my smart cell phone strictly as a phone. For 40 days I would be using my phone to call and text only. I find modern technology a blessing and a frustrating curse … it’s addicting, and it is advancing faster than I can keep up with. I wanted a challenge leading me to a more simplistic way of living.  What I have found out is …. This challenge has been a lot harder than I thought.
It appears almost EVERYTHING is on Facebook. You can get your news feed on Facebook, the weather, directions and ratings for businesses and restaurants. It is so much more than just keeping in touch with friends and family. Instagram is a money trap, and time sucker. I see ads for things and think I need them, and often I get sucked into watching reel after reel and then an hour has gone by. Anymore, I feel more like an algorithm than a human.
If I could be a simpleton and just have books and nature to entertain me, I would be content. Since starting my challenge, I’ve had to pull up things the “old fashioned” way in terms of finding directions, menus for restaurants, and the weather. By old fashioned, I mean utilizing the newspaper and radio for news updates and weather reports and using my laptop in the evenings to plot out driving directions on Google Maps to find where I need to go. I also keep a printed map of Anchorage in my car incase I get lost. Yes, a small-town Juneau girl has gotten lost up here in the north, more times than I can count. 
It should also be noted that my first week here I got my first ever parking ticket. Apparently, Anchorage has these devices called: parking meters. I figured out how to pay (the meters are all app-based mind you) but as it turns out, I did a thing called: double parking in my meter zone. I learned through my mistake that there are single meters, and double meters and I parked smack dab in the middle of a double meter thus taking up two parking spaces. Thankfully, I was let off with a warning after I contested my ticket explaining my small-town mind. It was embarrassing to admit that I really didn’t know parking meter law. I was used to the parking signs in downtown Juneau telling you when you could park, and you just squeezed in your spot!
I also had a humbling experience navigating without my phone last week. My two youngest children had their first swimming lessons in downtown Palmer, which only has so many roads, the town itself is tiny. The tallest building in Palmer is a water tower, how hard could it be? Yet, low and behold, without my phone, I managed to get us lost on our way to the pool that was attached to the high school. We found ourselves in a parking lot that lead into the lunchroom, not the pool … and after wandering around like lost ducks and peering into multiple windows in hopes of finding a lobby, we eventually spotted the correct parking lot off in the distance as we saw kids and their bright colored towels trudging through snow towards the pool entrance. 
What I have learned in this challenge to myself is how much I rely on my phone for just about anything and everything. All my apps have a purpose! I have a digital photo album loaded with memories, coupon apps, airline apps, social media apps…and the glorious Google that answers all my questions! What would I ever do without my phone? They’re little pocket computers that have our attention constantly. Have you ever misplaced your phone and gone through a panic? Or perhaps you left your phone on the roof of your car and watched it obliterate all over the road behind you? (This happened to my husband last week) … Have you felt that panic while you’re yelling “WHERE’S MY PHONE?!” 
The tools of technology are helpful, handy and incredibly convenient. I appreciate living in a country allowing freedoms and privileges to utilize these conveniences. I am also blessed to be given free will to choose how I spend this precious life of mine. This challenge for me, this longing to do something a little different with my life was fueled by reading a verse in James that smacked sense into my mushy brain. I do not want to spend the life I have constantly glued to blue lit screen in my spare time, I want to enjoy the tangible things as much as I can. 
Will I hop back on social media once Lent is over? I will, but probably not as often as before I started this Lenten challenge. I have really enjoyed utilizing my time in other ways. I have dusted off old cookbooks and tried new dishes instead of googling something to make. This led to finding an old family Rum Cake recipe in a book that I had not used in years!! The tastes and smells from the cake transported me back into my great grandmother’s kitchen where I tried it for the first time. I have spent more time with my kids playing new board games and we have all been sucked into a BBC murder mystery show that we watch every evening after dinner as we wind down for the evening. Friday family nights are now a weekly event in our house, no electronics allowed!! Everyone has enjoyed it so much we usually spend every night from Thursday evenings to Saturday evenings hanging out together …which feels like such a rarity in our culture anymore. I’ve paused apps before, but to ditch it all, it’s been hard at times but incredibly rewarding and very eye opening to my phone reliance and usage. My challenge was to ditch the convenience and the escapism technology allows to help myself learn to savor the everyday existence. This Lenten challenge to myself has been my favorite challenge yet. I can’t say the same for the time I gave up caffeine! 

1 Comment

Eileen Hosey 2 months ago

This was wonderful! Your points are so important and real eye openers!! Hope you all have a wonderful Easter.

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