My Media Detox Before the Most Important Election in History
I recently made a commitment to myself and another friend to come off television, movies and the internet for two weeks. I told another friend about this and he said, “Bummer, and right before the most important election in history!” To which I replied, “I have a secret for you. Every election is the “most important in history.” Missing the minute by minute election returns is not what I’ll miss. I’ll miss so having my head full of meaningless images that I don’t have to face what’s really bothering me in life. Two days into it I’m wrestling with all the demons I use TV to block out. Maybe I don’t say this to myself but every night I feel it, “I’m really tired right now and emotionally exhausted but it’s nothing four hours of nonstop mindless entertainment can’t cure.” The first thing I notice is how much more time I have on my hands to read. I’ve finished Frederick Buechner’s The Sacred Journey and am plodding through three Annie Dillard books in one volume. I may finally get around to Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. I just started Jane Hamilton’s A Map of the World. Reading good literature is hard for me.
I’m not a fast reader and I’m picking books that will help me write better. I hate attention to detail. I remember picking up John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as a kid and trying to read the first few pages and just hating it. I’m a little better now, reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is helping me. Maybe I’ll return to Steinbeck later and read him differently. The other really different thing about this detox is all the new sounds and places I notice. I live between a hospital and a fire station so there are always sirens going off at some point during the day. The doors in our corner of the hallway rattle like drums when we have two windows open at the same time. Our rabbit wants to dig a hole in the baseboard under our new breakfast nook and escape to the outside world. But I told my daughter that at seven stories up she’ll (Peanut Butter) have to fly into the tree in the garden before landing on the ground. My daughter gave me that same strange “You’re crazy” look followed by a half smile. Somehow when daddy is fanciful it just seems totally out of place. I’m the one who’s supposed to be serious and she’s the one who’s supposed to make up silly things. Whatever.
For some strange reason our church has had a free subscription to TV Guide for years. I’ve inherited it because no one else was interested. But now I’m just throwing it away. I would usually rip out the schedule in the back and toss the rest of it anyway. This morning while shaving I thought about completely disappearing from the internet. Just pull every blog page and networking tool I’ve ever created down and disappear. Why? Just for the heck of it. It feels good to disappear. Also, maybe its a reaction to the other desire I have to have it all, spending hours in front of the screen for no reason in particular. My friend walked near my desk and said with utter glee that he now knew how to really direct traffic to his blog. He contacts all his friends on Facebook every time he posts a new blog. Then he goes on a major news site and comments and links back to his blog. He gets featured. I smiled and nodded and said, “That’s really nice.” I was thinking to myself, “I’d sooner shoot myself in the face.” I don’t consider that I’d ever have anything so important to say on my blog so as to contact every friend on Facebook and ask them to look at it. I’m finally to the place that when I write I just don’t care for a reaction anymore. I’m going to keep writing for myself regardless. Shoot, without TV/movies/internet there’s nothing better to do.
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