Unplug Yourself

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Many, many moons ago, I was addicted to television. Cartoons in the afternoon. Followed by Wonder Woman, Kung Fu, and Benson. The evening news was typically my final flag to turn off the television set and finally start my homework.

In the summers, my addiction to television grew even worse. I was forbidden to go outside, and due to the sweltering heat and no swimming pool in sight or friends to hang out with, I was often content to stay indoors. Unfortunately, that often entailed more television. I’d start off my mornings eating my cereal while watching the game shows: $25,000 Pyramid, Family Feud, the Price is Right. And then followed my soap operas:   Young and the Restless, All My Children, Days of Our Lives, and General Hospital. Finally in the afternoon, somewhere between the cartoons and Wonder Woman, I became nauseated on my television overload and would finally pick up a book to read. By evening, under my parents’ watchful eyes, I was finally able to get out of our house and enjoy some fresh air outside. Only to follow that up with some good ole primetime tv! (Yuck! Now I think I’m gonna throw up!)

Television. In the 80s and early 90s, that usually meant, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Fox network.

Ahhh, the good old days. When life was truly simple.

Now we not only have television, we have Cable television. We have Premium channels. Movie channels.

Thank God that I am no longer an addict! But then yesterday, I read JMathis’s blog:

Time-killer. Brain-killer. Relationship-killer. Dream-killer. This is what I know about television.

Yet, I ingest this poison nightly.

I have all these dreams that I want to fulfill in my life—dreams which require much prayer, thought, planning, diligence and hard work. Yet, after a long day of work and going through the nightly motions of making dinner and putting my daughter to bed, I am too “exhausted” to even dream my dreams. Slowly, these dreams fade to black as the drone of the TV replaces them one-by-one and piece-by-piece, until they are no more and bear no more significance to my life.

Ouch!  As I read JMathis’s blog yesterday, I realized while I no longer had the luxury of watching television hours on end like I did as a child, I probably still watched it more than I should even now. As I read her blog, I began to feel convicted. I knew I was still guilty of watching television when I should be working on my book…or writing my blog…or spending quiet time with God.  But I wasn’t that bad…was I?

After all, I only watched it an hour or two in the evening when I was unwinding…or on the weekend when I was bored. Or when I was tired. Or when I felt stressed. Or even when there was nothing good to watch. Oh, no, I am still an addict!

But now it’s not just television. How many times have any of you logged onto Facebook—just for a minute or two, you promise yourself—just to check your status, and somehow magically two or three hours have flown by without you realizing it?! And if that isn’t enough, we also have email, Google-ing, Yahoo-ing, shopping, browsing, surfing, twittering, texting, etc. And we can choose to do it on our iPad, our Blackberry, our iPhone, or other mobile gadget. The amount of other things vying for our attention can feel overwhelming.

Time-killers. Brain-killers. Relationship-killers. Dream-killers.

All of them. Is it any surprise that all the things that are supposed to make our lives easier are actually only making them more complicated and busier?

What to do? We can’t just unplug our devices now can we…….or can’t we?

I haven’t read it yet, but I recently heard about a book written by a woman who did just that, albeit, she did have to bribe her three teenagers to get them to participate in the experiment. But in the her book, The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, the author recounts that while it was initially challenging to pull the plug to all of their technologies, in the end, they reconnected as a family and re-discovered many of the simpler pleasures of life like reading, playing musical instruments, and spending time together as a family.

While most of us would be hard-pressed to give up watching television or surfing or texting for several months or weeks, maybe we, too, can resolve to unplug ourselves for one day a week. Or for one evening.

Maybe after I finish my blog, I’ll quickly surf the Internet for the best deal on the book I just mentioned, and then I’ll turn off my computer, my Blackberry, and the TV and actually read a book the old fashioned way…oh, but wait…that means I’ll have to update my status on Facebook first…you know, just so my friends won’t be wondering where I am…

One step at a time, right?!  LOL!

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