Attentive to Advent, Not Social Media

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Because of a new software update on my phone, every Sunday morning I get a notification from Apple’s Screen Time app telling me how many hours I used my phone in the last week. Have you looked at that app? It tells you how many times you pick up your phone, the minutes you use each app, the number of notifications in a day, and your average weekly and daily usage.

At around the same time as I started getting these notifications, I starting looking at rhythms in my life; daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms. Those which were life-giving, those which were draining, those that I would like to change, and those that I would hope to incorporate. This has been a refreshing and deliberate process for me.

Over the last couple years, I have changed the way I use technology. I have realized that the technology which was created to connect us with people far away has actually become the barrier in connecting us with people directly in front of us. More often than not, I’m tethered to a device, almost a slave to its notifications and vibrations, and that makes me less present to life around me. And, I know I am not alone.

About a year ago I decided to make a few simple changes. Now, I no longer keep a phone near my bed at night and instead bought myself an old school alarm clock. I’ve deleted a lot of apps that wasted my time, such as Facebook, CSR Racing, Monument Valley, Candy Crush, and SimCity Build It (Ah, how I miss them). And, I’ve tried to make sure there are times in my day and week where I am not near my phone or laptop.

These simple changes have been great and helped me be less tethered to a device. And, I thought I was doing OK...until Screen Time. Now it’s been visualized just how much time I spend on other social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, and Gmail. These are keeping me connected to something other than my family, they are my go to when I’m waiting in line or am ‘bored,’ and are always there when I’m hoping to see the latest and greatest post.

So, with the arrival of the Advent season, I’ve decided to take a break from all social media. (Incidentally, I feel like a complete nincompoop posting on social media that I am stepping away from social media. That seems so counterintuitive.)

I’m deleting all apps from my phone and blocking websites on my laptop. I’m going to intentionally make my smartphone a dumb phone. I’m also planning to shut off my phone for an entire day once a week. Although this new rhythm will only be for a matter of weeks, I think it might be a great one; one that allows me the space to wait for the One’s arrival we celebrate in Advent, to open myself to the One who is always present to me, and to step away from things that seek my attention so that I might be attentive to the One who became the Christ.

This is the time of year we celebrate the incarnation, the Divine becoming “in fleshed,’ and I want to better model incarnation in my own life. I want to be present to God, be present to my wife, be present to my sons, be present my friends, present to nature around me, and present to Christ who is in all and through all. Here’s to a new rhythm. See you soon.

Nathan Albert