Reflections on the Fast

So you may remember, last Sunday I had a 24-hour “fast” from internet and t.v.  I haven’t had a chance this week to write about it, until now.

I have to say, 24 hours isn’t enough.  I really think I need to find a good time to take, like, a week off from the screens.  The problem is, I could easily give up t.v., but internet is one way we communicate.  If someone emails me needing a response (or facebook or whatever), I wouldn’t know about it.  I would go about my internetless life, unaware that someone needed something from me, and they would think I was blowing them off or being rude.  So maybe sometime I should give up t.v. and internet for a week with a caveat that I will check my email every other day or something.

The first thing I noticed was that while I was typing the words that I was taking a break from t.v., I felt anxious.  Physically anxious.  My heart beat a little faster, I took a tense breath.  I realized I’m afraid of silence.  Strange, right?  I like being with people more than I like being alone.  Alone=pretty much the worst thing in the world.  This is definitely something I need to work on.  But what I realized is that the noise of t.v., the distraction of internet, they numb that realization of being alone.  When there is nothing to listen to, my apartment sounds empty.  When I’m not sucked into a t.v. show or a website, I can see that I’m the only one here. 

It sounds silly, or even crazy, doesn’t it?  As though right now, because I’m dinking on the internet and watching CSI, I think there are other people in my apartment?  Of course I don’t.  🙂  But as long as alone is such an unpleasant state, I think my brain does whatever it can to not be aware of it.  So the bigger goal might be to experience the alone, and figure out how to get comfortable with it.

But this did begin as being about t.v., and I will talk about that.  I love movies and t.v. shows for the same reason I like reading fiction.  I like stories.  I like getting swept up in some fictitious life that is vastly different from my own.  I like the idea that these characters and their worlds were created by someone’s imagination.  But t.v. is like junk food.  A little bit is a nice treat.  Too much makes me feel worse, not better.  Too much sitting in front of the screen makes me sleep worse.  Too much gives me a headache.  It also sort of sucks you in, and once you turn it on it’s hard to stop.  It might be 11:00 p.m. and I’m falling asleep, but I’ll still keep flipping channels.  So then the next day I’m not only dealing with poor sleep because I wasn’t active, and the leftovers of a t.v. headache, but also not enough sleep.

When I don’t watch t.v., such as last Sunday, I do things.  Even if I don’t officially workout, I clean the house, and walk the dog for longer, and maybe clean out closets or something.  I sleep better when I’ve done things.  (I sleep even better when I workout, but that’s another conversation.)  I eat better, because I stop eating when I’m full rather than experiencing the mindless eating in front of the t.v.  I feel productive, because things get done.  I’m less stressed, because whatever I needed to do was done.  (Do you catch a theme here?)

There are just a few things.  I can’t stand folding laundry, so I tend to do it while watching t.v.  On Sunday, I avoided folding several loads for many hours.  Actually, I seriously considered breaking my “fast” so I could get the laundry folded!  In the end I just folded it in the silence, but I hated it.  Other things like that are correcting papers, paying bills, and organizing church choir music.  (A bigger job than it sounds, trust me!) 

I’m not about to completely give up t.v. or anything.  🙂  But I like how I feel when I watch less.


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