I am addicted to the Internet, and I imagine I’m not the only one.
The first thing I do in the morning is to check not only my email, but also my Twitter feed, Facebook page and Instagram posts.
I also use several apps to see who has communicated with me in a different time zone overnight.
Then, the last thing I do before I go to bed is to check all of these things again.
I feel “naked” without my phone and all its many connective functions. I take my iPhone with me almost everywhere, and I feel sad when I have to turn it into “airplane mode” when flying.
I know I’ve found myself with such an addiction because I love words. I love connecting with friends, no matter where geographically they might live.
Most of all, I love the “social” feature of relationship building that the Internet offers us in 2014.
But the problem comes when I am never unplugged. I say, “I’m working,” which makes it all OK, of course.
I tell myself that Feed the Children, for whom I work as ambassador of social advocacy, needs me to monitor the comment section of their Facebook page more than once a day or even twice.
I think that if I keep hitting the refresh button on my email, my life might be changed by whatever message might come in. But when time “off” comes, what then?
Going on vacation is always such a crossroads moment. And I just had one. For the last two weeks, my husband, Kevin, and I were “off the grid.”
And as fun it would have been to post a picture of our every adventure, I wanted to take a “tech Sabbath.”
I deleted all social apps from my phone. I texted less and did not answer calls unless urgent.
I tried to be as present as I could to the moments of rest, breathing deeply and seeing new things that this time away offered.
This is what I learned as I was sitting in the beautiful Utah mountains:
1. Moving forward, not everyone needs to know my every pondering, cute story or interesting life event.
Privacy is good. Time for reflection and romance is even better when I’m not being so social.
2. The world goes on without me even if I don’t stay so connected to it.
Sure, I missed events in the world, but it is OK. If it is really important, I can catch up when I return.
3. Social media professionals especially need to unplug.
Those whose jobs require them to be continually connected via social media need to remember that our worth is more than the clever post we just penned on our HootSuite or TweetDeck account, or how many likes or shares our posts received.
4. I need more tech Sabbaths.
Not just the vacation kind, but regular, intentional breaks during the day and throughout the week.
5. A clearer and less distracted mind is a beautiful thing.
This is difficult to maintain without stepping away from the connectivity technology offers.
What about you? Have you taken a tech Sabbath lately? What did you learn?
Elizabeth Evans Hagan is a freelance writer and minister dividing her time between Arlington, Virginia, and Oklahoma City. She regularly blogs about the art of pastoring at Preacher on the Plaza, where a version of this column first appeared. You can follow her on Twitter @Elizabethagan.
Elizabeth Hagan is senior minister of The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C. Other hats she wears are as a preacher, author and executive director of Our Courageous Kids, a foundation dedicated to orphan care.