I’m Going Dark! (Join the Challenge!)

DarkI was driving home this weekend from dropping my eight-year old son off at horse camp.  My wife had a baby shower to go to, and she had the other kids with her.  So, it was just me and my thoughts.  I started to reflect on all the electronic gadgets that we fill our time up with every day.  We have TVs in every room, DVD players, IPods, Computers, the Internet, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Newsreaders, Radios.  The list goes on and on.

Now, I am not opposed to technology.  I rather enjoy it!  Sometime though, I wonder if I am letting it consume me to the detriment of other more important things in my life.  To me, those things that may be suffering are my relationship and quiet time with God including time in his word, my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my kids, and my other reading.

So, I made a decision.  It is something I have been thinking about for a little over a year, and I think it’s finally time to do it.  Starting this coming Saturday at 12:00, I am eliminating electronics from life (mostly).  In essence, this is an exercise in self-control.

I am posting about this here for four reasons.

  1. I am wondering if, and hoping that, some other people might choose to join me in this learning experience.
  2. I am certain that the more people who know about my plan and are involved in it, the more likely I am to not give and follow through with my plan.
  3. A lot of the communication I get these days is electronic.  I have numerous e-mail accounts, facebook, a blog, a twitter account and more.  I won’t be using these things for a week, and it seemed like the civil thing to do to let people know that.  As for this blog, I am breaking with my regular schedule.  I am posting this article on Monday night.  I intend to leave it up all this week (I am hoping more people will see it that way).  I am also pushing back all of the regular entries for next week so that this article will remain posted through the time of the blackout!  I am sure that I will keep writing during that time which should give me plenty of material for when the lights come back on!
  4. I plan on keeping a journal of what I experience and learn through this process (I hope it will be something), and I plan to post some articles about that – hopefully the following week.

So, here are the ground rules I am laying out for myself. Unfortunately, my job will not allow me to turn off the technology there for a week (I wish I could).  So, many of my “rules” relate to that.

  1. My black out will commence precisely at 12:00 AM, Saturday, July 18, 2009 and run through 11:59, Friday, July 24, 2009.
  2. I will turn off the following while I am at home: TVs, DVD Players, Game Systems, Computers, Radios, Cell Phones, Ipods, etc.
  3. No Radio or Ipod in the Van or Truck.  Sorry kids!
  4. I will not access the internet for any reason for the entire week unless absolutely necessary for work.  Should I need to access it for work, I will limit my access to the immediate need only and finish as quickly as possible. (This means no blog or facebook entries for the entire week).
  5. I will access e-mails at work from my work e-mail address only during working hours.
  6. My work computer also checks my personal e-mail addresses.  I will turn off the automatic checking of this e-mail address.  I will check e-mails to my personal account once each day at work around 12:00-1:00.  I will only open e-mails from people which appear as though they may require some timely response.  I will not read automatically generated e-mails from the various groups which I participate in (facebook, my blog, etc.) during that time.  The purpose of these exceptions related to my personal e-mail is to allow me to avoid being rude by not responding to personal e-mails which are an integral part of the way people communicate today.
  7. I also need access to my cell phone for work purposes (it is the number that shows up on my business card).  So, I will turn my cell phone when I walk out the door to go to work in the morning and turn it off when I walk in the door in the evening.
  8. Computer use will also be restricted to work hours and only for work purposes.

So, that’s the plan!  I think you get the idea.  In short, the only electronics I plan on using are for work and only during work hours.  I thought about forcing my kids to do the same for a week, but I suppose it is my duty to try it out first and demonstrate for them that it possible. 🙂 Maybe the whole family will get on board, and we’ll have another “dark week” later this summer.

As I was pondering this idea and listening to my Ipod on the drive home (after I was done checking my e-mail and facebook on my cell phone), I heard the confirmation from God for this plan in the following song.  It came on the Ipod just as I was wavering over whether this was a good idea or not.  The song is “Stop the World” by Matthew West, and it’s one of my favorites.  I always find it amazing how God can speak to you circumstanced through worship music.  I think giving up music on the radio may actually be the hardest part of this challenge for me, but that is another post for another day.  Below is a video and lyrics of that song.

So, here’s my questions and my challenge for you.  Are you willing to join me in going dark?  Can you turn it all off for a week?  If you’re interested, leave a comment here (before Friday night of course).  I’m breaking with my regular article posting schedule this week as well.  I am posting this Monday night, and I intend to leave it up through next week.  I’d love to know that other people are joining in this experience.  I can’t wait to see what it teaches me about life.

Stop the World…Matthew West

Here are the lyrics:

The TV is talking
The telephone’s ringing
The lights are all on
And the radio’s screaming
A million distractions are stealing my heart from You
I’m tired and empty
This life is relentless
It weakens my knees
And breaks my defenses
It’s wearing me down and I’m desperate to hear from You

Stop the world I wanna get out
I need an escape away from this crowd
Just to hear You speak to me

I need to be still before I make a move
I need to be humble with nothing to prove
I need Your Word to show me the truth
And I need time, precious time

Stop the world I wanna get out
I need an escape away from this crowd
Just to hear You speak to me
Stop the world I’m ready to listen
Show me sign, give me a vision of heaven
I can hold on to
Stop the world I need some time with You

Before I can find my voice
I need to hear Your voice
Above all the senseless noise

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Wayne! I decided to join you! I blogged about it here:
    http://culdesacmom.blogspot.com/2009/07/going-dark-challenge.html

  2. […] I’m Going Dark! (Join the Challenge!) […]

  3. […] I’m Going Dark! (Join the Challenge!) [07/13/2009] […]

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