Recently I wrote a post about my family partaking in a “media fast” for one month. One of the comments on that post asked that I give a follow up, a sort of check-in on how things have gone since the fast. Here’s are the results:
Very little changed.
This isn’t all negative, though. Good things have happened. During the media fast we were more intentional about shared family activities, resting, or reading. We talked about lots of different subjects, the activities of the day, stuff like that (things that will still talk about now that the fast is over). It took about a week for the “what-will-I-do-without-media” panic to wear off. We settled into a nice groove of media silence. But now the screens are glowing again.
I mainly watch sports, do-it-yourself shows, and (can I confess this publicly?) all the old X-Files (on my iPad). The kids like watching their “pre-teeny-bopper” shows and animated movies. Elaine flitters around on Pinterest or just hangs out where the kids and I happen to be (and she’ll never turn down a chance to watch Cary Grant!).
Here are a few things I have learned through this fast, and our previous seasons of being TV-free:
- TV isn’t evil, it’s just easy. Having a conversation requires more focus and presence than watching television. But sharing time watching a Spurs game or old Cosby Show rerun can also be fun as a family.
- Media discernment needs to flow from our relationship with God, not the standards of others. God’s children have a long history of making moral choices more from peer opinions rather than from listening to God and His Word. I admit I don’t always make the wisest media choices (nor does my family), but at the end of the day we take it up with God and move forward in His grace.
- Reflective moments (or seasons) are good in life. It’s a good thing to take time regularly to quiet down, reflect, and evaluate choices and habits. God wants us to live aware, not just floating through life without any bearings on what influence our surroundings might have on us. (By the way, reflection can occur with or without a “media fast”)
- Use media, but don’t be controlled by it. God says we aren’t to be “mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6 & 2 Peter 2), meaning we are not to allow “earthly things” to dictate how we live. It can be easy to fall into the trap of media dictating how every minute of the day is ordered. A first step for us to avoid this was getting a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), which allows us to record what we want to watch and then watch it on our schedule. If that doesn’t work, periodic media fasts might be helpful for reordering priorities.
- Principles are more important than policies. A healthy family grows out of love, loyalty, and even licks (“…whoever hates correction is stupid.” Prov 12:1b). If we lock in so strongly to rigid rules and harsh punishments surrounding media use, we lose sight of relating to one another and life just becomes about checking off boxes to impress others with our performance. I’d rather have failure and brokenness (even occasional resistance or rebellion) with love than perfect performance with dead relationships.
So, there’s my update. Not too impressive, I know. But in our family we aren’t really concerned with whether anyone else ooh’s and aah’s over our appearance. Instead, we would rather just love each other and try to encourage one another to love God and love people — whether the TV is on or not…