Going Dark: revisited

Back in January I wrote a post called “Going Dark“.

In case you haven’t read it, the post arose from my reflection that sometimes I “overdose” on the internet and that time “browsing” can supersede the relationships right in front of me.

In response to this I made a pledge that I would have one day off the Internet a week.

With some exceptions I have managed this day off a week and on the whole it’s been really positive. I’m inevitably more present in the here-and-now when I’m not checking my phone to see what’s happening in the cyber-world.  I usually take the day off on a Sunday, but a Saturday would work just as well.

But a few more reflections have arisen from taking this weekly Internet fast. The Internet is with us, and it’s here to stay. Social media is with us, and it’s here to stay. And it’s increasingly a medium we are using to connect with our friends.  So, like anything else we need to establish what our healthy boundaries are in using it. I’ve got this nailed for one day a week. But what about the other 6 days? In some ways it’s easier to just “go dark” for a whole day than to exercise self-control for the whole week.

Some of the comments to my original post were interesting. One guy said “I began to notice a while back that my days of fasting weren’t going anywhere. I still wasted time on the internet, etc. I realized that fasting the computer as well was way more effective in getting me into those times of meeting with God”  Does this sound familiar to anyone? It does to me.

Another comment said “We do nothing “digital” on Sundays – we can play the Wii TOGETHER or watch telly TOGETHER or get a board game out.” This family had also come up with the following boundaries for internet/phone use:

* No mobiles at dinner time.

* No hand-held devices when other people are in the room trying to be sociable

* I try to not sit in front of Facebook when the children are around, which means no FB at weekends.

* No Nintendo DS’s or ipods with earphones ’til at least aged 10 (unless we get one that belongs to the WHOLE FAMILY & requires SHARING!!!)

I love these ideas! Our kids are too young for social media but it won’t be long before they’re asking to get involved. Making sure we have our own boundaries in place is crucial because they will observe what we “do” before what we “say”.

I don’t write this because it’s something I’ve “mastered”. Far from it. I write because I think it’s an issue many of us face and I’d like to know what the rest of you out there think.

Maybe you don’t think it matters how much you use social media.

Maybe you’ve worked out a way to moderate how you use it.

I’m interested:

How often do you look at social media on average each day or each week?

Have you put any boundaries in place?

Any other thoughts to throw out there?

Posted by Anna

11 thoughts on “Going Dark: revisited

  1. Thanks for reminding me of those boundaries I put in place. I’ve found it much more difficult since I got my own smartphone, so I’m thinking about working harder to enforce those boundaries for myself and making sure the whole family understands how important it is to “exercise self-control for the whole week”, as you put it.


  2. Will watch the replies on this post with much interest. You’ve grown in to quite the sensible young lady huh Mrs R!!!


  3. I have down graded my phone to the most basic… it still has internet but it’s snail pace and as yet I haven’t hooked it up to work emails. I began to notice I was ignoring the children and spending too much time checking for messages… just in case. It means that now I have to be sat at a computer to access the cyber world. It is amazingly freeing and I don’t feel I am missing out at all. A win, win for the whole family.


  4. Great post – thank you Anna.

    Are you ready for the longest comment ever!!???

    I “gave up” facebook 4 years ago after finding that I spent every hour of every day on it. It was very addictive and fed ye olde “orphan spirit” really well. In the end, I had a horrible online stalking experience that scared me and brought me to the kairos moment of giving it up. Over the last 2 years I’ve grown alot (work in progress, I admit) and can see that I’m living much more as an heir than an orphan….

    I started using twitter back in February the same time as I upgraded to a smartphone – and I can see that for me its the constant availability of online contact that could be an issue… So my “Going Dark” has to be switching off the phone. (and I only respond to work emails once a week on my day in the office…)

    I have the following observations/questions about twitter for me – and this is for me and my personality, not necessarily something that’s the case for all…

    I have found twitter to be excellent for discipleship – both for me and for the people I’m leading. I regularly check who I’m following – I’m aware that its even called a “feed” and I check what I am feeding myself!! Watching Question Time has been transformed for me – and I feel like I learn much more. If you can harness the learning platform that twitter can be, I find that I take in much more at conferences etc.

    BUT NICOLE, is TWITTER feeding your orphan-ness…I ask myself??!!!
    So here are my questions to me…

    Are you actively chasing/grooming followers?
    Do you constantly check how many people are following you?
    Does it bother you if you follow someone and they don’t follow you back?
    Does it bother you if your leader doesn’t follow you?
    Does your profile massively inform your identity…?

    IDENTITY is key for me in all this. If your identity (as an heir, not an orphan, a daughter/son not a slave) is secure then you’ll read these questions and laugh…

    Also, if you put rules and boundaries in place without your identity being secure then you’ll enforce them out of legalism and not freedom (think on Galatians…!) and beat yourself up if you mess up on your boundaries…

    One final thought – is social media sometimes the equivalent of porn for women…? Do men look at private parts and women look at private lives….? (One of my favourite Alan Hirsch quotes!!)

    I think facebook was for me…

    Love Nicole

    PS good read along these lines is Vicky Beeching’s blog – Why I Disagree With Giving Up Social Media For Lent



    • Nicole, I love these thoughts especially the stuff about identity. I couldn’t agree more with this “if you put rules and boundaries in place without your identity being secure then you’ll enforce them out of legalism and not freedom (think on Galatians…!) and beat yourself up if you mess up on your boundaries…” We’ll never see freedom in this if our identity is all caught up in the wrong stuff. I also think the questions you ask yourself are great.
      Lots to think about.. perhaps another post is brewing up here!!
      Will check out the vicky beeching blog, thanks xx


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  6. I love hearing your thoughts on this Anna and Nicole,
    Having just got back from a week on holiday with phones turned off and no internet. I felt myself sigh and noticed a stange mixture of sadness and excitement when I turned my phone back on at the airport.
    I had enjoyed a week of escapism and rest, not feeling the ‘pressure’ of responding to texts and making plans…life felt refreshing and simple with the only plan for the day being where we will eat our evening meal.
    But, when I turned the phone back on and received a handful of texts from close friends and family saying ‘welcome back…can’t wait to hear about your holiday…let’s catch up this week’ I felt loved and thankful to be part of community that is bigger than just me and Fintan.
    I think, as with everything there is a balance to be had…it’s good to have plans and to be aware of what is going on in the lives of people you love and to take on responsibilty and respond to others but I am keen to cling on to the sense of rest and simplicity that we felt on holiday… To have the space to be spontaneous and to have the headspace to talk over a meal, to notice the beauty around me, we loved watching children play and laugh and to savour food, drink, views etc… I don’t think it would have been half as good if we’d been sat in the ‘wifi’ area watching a ‘kindle’.


    • Good thoughts Sarah. Balance is always key and we have to learn how to walk that fine line. Time-out of normal life, like going on holiday, really helps give new perspective on how we want our life to look.


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