I don’t own a TV, but I do own an iPhone. Therefore I have perpetual access to YouTube.
I am addicted to YouTube, or at least nearly so. It is a pitiful thing. Since my sister and I got wifi in our apartment, I also can stream my favourite shows, and due to the video rental store a block away (archaic, I know) I need not ever lift my head from the screen.
And for the last few months, it seems I didn’t. I’d come home from work, meaning to read, write, or do something useful. But I’d be tired and sit down ‘just for a few minutes’ with my laptop. Before I knew it, it would be time for dinner (or two-thirty in the morning depending on the shift).
So, when I was challenged to a ‘media fast’ as part of my church’s ‘Month of Prayer and Fasting,’ I knew exactly what I needed to do. For those who are not of religious background, ‘fasting’ traditionally meant giving up eating for a time. Many Christians have expanded the definition to mean laying down a good thing (such as food, TV, coffee, etc.) in order to concentrate on prayer, and to submit that thing to God. For the next month, Monday to Saturday I may not watch TV, movies, or YouTube.
Today is the fifth day. And you know? i don’t miss it–not really. I mean, it’s Friday night and often that meant watching a movie with a snack and coffee. Tonight I’m home sick from work, and I’m on a the couch anyway, so a movie would be lovely. Tonight, I do miss it. I’ve ‘settled’ for a radio version of Les Miserables (no singing–yay!).
Every other day, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of having no choice. It sounds strange, but the worst thing about watching YouTube as much as I wanted was the compulsion. I couldn’t seem to resist it. So now my mind is made up for me. And also, I was the master of multitasking. In fact, it seemed I couldn’t concentrate on writing without a YouTube clip or a TV show playing in the background. Now I enjoy music, or silence instead. On the whole, my head feels clearer and I’m more productive.
But we weren’t challenged to fast from media to clear our heads and make us more productive, any more than we’re challenge to fast from food to make us lose weight. Here is the question: have I been using TV and media as a God-substitute? I realize after the fact that watching TV after work was just novocaine. It was a distraction so I didn’t have to face my issues. It was an easy way out.
Does one month of fasting fix this? I don’t know. I’ve never tried this before. It’s my hope that after a month, I’ll be able to enjoy movies and YouTube in more moderate doses, and to REALLY enjoy them without guilt because of it.