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Is tech sucking away our souls? A 30-day tech-free challenge

Entertainment, Advice/Technology
By Kyra Thompson

Image: Deposit Photo

I recently embarked upon a journey of unthinkable magnitude: for 30 days, I decided I would not sit down and mindlessly watch a screen at night. That included shows, social media scrolling, mindless games, and YouTube videos. This means I was forced to use my mind and creative energy to come up with other activities to occupy my free time in the evenings. And what I found out was truly life-changing.

I feel like I have a soul again. 

Before going any further, I must give credit where credit is due. The decision was influenced immensely by a book I was recommended a while ago: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer. When I began reading this book, I could barely make myself sit down long enough to read it in the first place. I was such a busy person. I’m a self-employed writer with aspirations, I’m in a relationship, I have a big social family, and I volunteer at my church in 70 different capacities. I couldn’t possibly make time for anything else in my life… could I? 

Finally, about a month in I actually got more than a couple of pages into it, and I was hooked. It was like someone wrote my symptoms and diagnosis with crystal clear accuracy; busy, hurried, bone-tired, and no amount of vacation or spa days could even touch it. Then he got into the stats about tech, and that woke me up. 

The average American

  • touches their phone 2,617 times a day,
  • spends 705 hours on social media in a year,
  • spends 10,000 hours playing games by the time they are 21,
  • watches approximately 2,737.5 hours of TV in a year,
  • and has an attention span of 8 seconds.

If that doesn’t get your attention, mother and author Arlene Pellicane, who came on the Counter Culture Mom show several months ago, had some very sobering information about the science of what entertainment on technology does to young minds psychologically. When children are playing video games, the pre-frontal cortex which is the executive decision-making center of the brain, receives no blood flow. This is because the nature of many games put the body into fight or flight mode. So the body sends all the blood to the organs and other vital parts of the body to protect them and just “keep your kid alive,” as Pellicane describes it. This means basic healthy decision-making is altered. (For more on the hormonal effects of tech, check out her episode here.) 

After hearing all of this, I started actually paying attention to how much I was scrolling, browsing, and just playing around on my phone. I thought for sure that wasn’t my problem, after all, most of my time is spent on other things like work, church, and community. I was wrong. 

It was hardly noticeable at first because it was short little doses throughout the day; a quick reel on Instagram over lunch, just one round of a relaxing bubble-popping game during a break, a few YouTube shorts in bed to wind down. But when I added it all up, the truth was undeniable. I was spending an abundance of time not just on my devices, but on content that was in no way beneficial or important to me whatsoever. 

That is when I got mad. How could I have let this happen? It was simple, I had let the cares of this world pull me along in their gentle inviting tug. And as a result, I constantly felt busy and hurried like there wasn’t enough time in my day. It was like waking up and realizing that you had drifted somewhere on the river of life that you never intended to be or even realized you were headed. And the thing that wakes you up is that feeling that you are about to burn out from exhaustion. I am sure I’m the only one who has ever dealt with this problem before, but in the off chance that maybe anyone reading this can relate, I have good news: Jesus offers us rest. 

To be fair to me and everyone in our society, we are fighting an upstream battle. All of this technology is designed to keep us consuming constantly. But as Christians, we are called to be counter-cultural and chances are if you are reading this blog that is exactly what you desire to do. The wonderful thing about being a Jesus-follower is that when He calls you to do something, He equips you with the power and ability to make it happen.

I have to thank Comer for sharing the lesson the Lord taught Him in his book, but this idea of our souls needing to slow down and rest is not a new idea. From the old testament to the new, scripture has been telling humanity how God’s pace is a slow pace. 

And I can see why. When I decided to cut my screen off, even just at night, my soul seemed to turn back on. I had more time for reflective activities, intentional relationship-building with both my family and the Lord, and a deepened awareness of spiritual things. I realized in so many ways how even my walk with the Lord had been rushed and sloppy, and now this time was allowing me the ability to slow down and breathe with Him again. 

The truth is, I still definitely have an addiction to my phone and technology in general. I am by no means saying that I have somehow mastered the superhuman ability to completely unplug (which I know more and more people are recommending, although I have no idea how). And I still consume loads of content on a regular basis. But it was amazing to me the impact just a small change like cutting it out of my evenings made on my life. And how much it propelled me toward the ultimate goal of being like Jesus. 

So, I am not suggesting you throw out all of your technology. But if you are anything like me and you’ve felt a weight of exhaustion beyond what any amount of sleep can touch, then I highly recommend taking on a challenge of your own. You don’t have to do what I did or even for as long as I did. But try and make a small change that begins to loosen the grip that technology has on you and your family’s lives. It may be difficult at first, and it will be so tempting to just relax and slip back into that mindless routine, but I urge you to stick with it. The results are wonderful, and not only are they amazing they are necessary to the one who would follow in the steps of Jesus. Rest is an absolute necessity for healthy spiritual development. And most technology and content is designed to keep us from rest and contentment. 

For more information on how to take back your family from machines check out these episodes from the Counter Culture Mom show where the guests share some amazing tips to create a healthy relationship with technology in your home: Ep. 304: Kathy Koch and Ep. 301: Arlene Pellicane

The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.




Kyra Thompson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for storytelling as a way of connecting people with truth and the bigger picture of this thing we call the human experience. She earned her degree in journalism from Liberty University and has been published in USA Glass Magazine and as a ghostwriter for several pastors with ministries all over the country.

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