A Sabbath From Social Media and the Cell Phone

Blade Barringer develops and maintains our ACT3 website as well as my blog site. He is a consummate professional. I recommend his services to any of you who need help in these areas of your ministry. His work is incredibly good and his prices are fair. His day job is with a Christian publisher but he handles some side jobs like his work for ACT3 Network. If you’d like to contact him let me know and I’ll pass along how you can reach him.

Unknown-3One of the things Blade has given to me is “freedom” in my spirit about how to use the various media tools that I employ. I am so clueless about this stuff but in Blade I have a friend who is patient, slow to speak, gentle and a great teacher. He will interact with me and yet never overwhelms me with big data in the process. I may sound “dumb” to him at times (I never ask) but he never makes me feel “dumb.” My world is so much better since Blade began to work for ACT3 about eighteen months ago. A Wheaton College grad, Blade is a thoughtful serious Christian who also appreciates what I do with obvious dedication and love.

I say all of this to tell you about an email that Blade recently sent to me. He wrote:

A heads up that I’m going to start a practice of not using my computer/iPhone starting on Fridays at 6:00pm to Saturday at 6:00pm. I’m finding that I’m working too much, and want to set aside that time for rest.

My phone will be on Do Not Disturb mode during that time, which means it won’t alert me to new emails or text messages. I have your cell number listed in my favorites, so if you call while it is in Do Not Disturb mode, it will go through. So, if there is an emergency, do not hesitate to call.

I wrote back and told Blade, “Bravo!” This is a great personal decision. I deeply respect it. I will never call you unless it really is an emergency.

After thinking about Blade’s decision I made the same one for myself. I am cutting off my Internet use, text messaging and iPhone (except for family) from 5 p.m. on Saturday until 5 p.m. on Sunday every week. I will try to wait until Monday to read email and then respond to my messages. Because my “Sabbath” begins on Saturday evening, with worship and eucharist in a vespers service, I have found incredible peacefulness in the rhythms of my life on Saturday-Sunday. Adding this additional decision to the things that I already do will bring me much needed rest and peace from the busy world that swirls around me. The other decision that I made, which will actually be harder to carry out, is to not check Facebook and email quite so often during the week. Even though this form of communication is instant I do not need to respond instantly. I will generally scroll through my mail and texts and only respond to anything that seems time sensitive. Everything else can be delayed for 24-72 hours in most instances.  I’m not sure how you handle this “stressor” but I’d love to hear your ideas. I believe that it is time we take back our lives and use this new communication better. I know I need to take these steps. My life is far too connected.

7 Comments on “A Sabbath From Social Media and the Cell Phone”

  1. Thanks for this post John. It’s an excellent reminder to build boundaries and discipline with technology. You have inspired me to “check in” less. You also brought two scriptures to mind for Sabbath. “Be still and know that I am God” and “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, thing about such things.” (Psalm 46:10 and Philippians 4:8)

  2. Dear John,
    I applaud you and Blade for taking these steps. I always feel a bit guilty when you respond so quickly to my emails. I’ve got a very old cellphone that is barely hanging on. One of the main switches is broken and the charger connection socket is so loose that some mornings I find that it has failed to fully charge. I know that I need to find a replacement, but I’m a bit fearful of coming away with a new phone that has a keypad that opens the door to texting. Years ago I was the same way, resisting getting an answering machine; I eventually gave in. I’ve never had cable TV; I get plenty of stations with an outdoor antenna. It’s not that these things are necessarily bad; I’m just concerned that I may not be disciplined enough to keep them from robbing me of the precious quiet time that I have.

  3. John,

    Reading this post brought to mind “Dies Domini,” a letter that John Paul II wrote in 1998 (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_05071998_dies-domini_en.html)

    Here’s a sample paragraph that sums up his exhortation concerning “keeping holy the Lord’s Day,” as Blade Barringer has inspired you to do:

    67. Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full. As the day on which man is at peace with God, with himself and with others, Sunday becomes a moment when people can look anew upon the wonders of nature, allowing themselves to be caught up in that marvellous and mysterious harmony which, in the words of Saint Ambrose, weds the many elements of the cosmos in a “bond of communion and peace” by “an inviolable law of concord and love”. (111) Men and women then come to a deeper sense, as the Apostle says, that “everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:4-5). If after six days of work — reduced in fact to five for many people — people look for time to relax and to pay more attention to other aspects of their lives, this corresponds to an authentic need which is in full harmony with the vision of the Gospel message. Believers are therefore called to satisfy this need in a way consistent with the manifestation of their personal and community faith, as expressed in the celebration and sanctification of the Lord’s Day.

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