Monday, October 31, 2011

The Next Story - conclusions

Final Thoughts

In the epilogue, Challies talks about one area he has been challenged in each of the 6 topics he has covered. It was helpful and instructive to hear how he has made decisions in light of his life, which is prominent online. I’ll leave you to peruse it at your leisure.

However, it’s time for the rubber to hit the road for me. This book has challenged me in every area he covered. I live a lot of my life online, interacting through mediated methods and drowning at times in a sea of information. I like my online life, yet at times feel trapped by it, only too aware how little privacy I retain.

Here are some of the things I have come to realise:
  • I have tended to prefer mediated communication. It’s easier to send an email than to make a phone call. To catch up with someone in person often takes 4-8 weeks to find a free spot in my diary. However, I am more now committed to less mediated forms of communication. I hate texting, so I avoid that already. But now I am trying to call people to talk, rather than emailing. What I have found? Most things are quicker in person or on the phone. Emailing takes a number of bounces back and forth, checking details, clarifying comments, etc. A phone call is often faster, more efficient and I feel I have actually talked to the person properly.
  • I am easily distracted. I check messages when they come in, and my emails and Facebook page regularly – much more regularly that necessary. Not having a paid job means I do not have to be in constant communication with people. Few emails need to be answered within 24 hours, and texts, while seeming urgent, rarely are.
  • I am surrounded by information. I am now unsubscribing to many email lists and am regularly reducing the blogs I read. I hide many people on Facebook. I ensure I don’t get spam texts by not providing my mobile number where possible.
  • I am more aware that when I blog, Facebook, search and email, the data trail I leave behind is potentially permanent. I want to be careful how I speak at all times and what I spend my time doing.
  • I have gotten into the habit of skim-reading the bible. I want to break this quickly and completely. I want to study God’s word in detail, not skim over it because I have already read it so many times before. I am realising this takes real commitment – both of time and energy.

In the end, the biggest change that reading the book has encouraged me to commit to is a break from the online world. I am now trying to commit to 2 days a week with no internet connection.
  • Thursdays because Husband & I have decided to have a regular day off again (no kids)
  • Saturdays because that is really the ‘kids day off’ and I want to be with them more.
At this stage that means that on those days, I check no email, do not log on to Facebook, do not read any blogs and try not to reply to any texts. I try to keep my mobile on silent or away from sight. A few weeks in and I am actually loving it. I feel the pull of the computer, but enjoy the decision to stay away from it. I am already finding it incredibly freeing and it has helped me see what is a distraction and what excesses of information I need to remove from my life.

What about you? What has challenged you in this series?

If you want to keep thinking about some of these things, here are a few ideas:

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