I just returned from a week in Colorado with my family, trading the brutal Texas heat for 40 degree mornings, clean mountain air and roaring campfires under the stars. We were far enough away from city life that there was no internet, and the small cabin owned by my in-laws didn’t even have a TV. We were forced to “unplug” and it was divine.
Ahh, reminders of the good old days, when we spent long hours with friends and family—looking one another in the eyes—and used landlines for local calls because “long distance” was costly. Our mail was delivered once daily, six days a week, and life went on without having to see a picture of what a distant friend had for dinner displayed through social media.
Unplugging from the noise of the world reminded me of an article I read about “infobesity.” According to researchers, this is an epidemic of major proportions that threatens our physical and mental health. Simply known as information overload, side effects include fatigue, memory loss, increased blood pressure, poor decision-making and stress. The negative noise we’ve been bombarded with over the past year has been deafening, and I see personal relationships fractured as our society is in a frenzy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to treasure silence, as rare as it is these days.
Re-entry after vacation is always hard, and leaving the peace and quiet of the mountains to return to reality is doubly tough. Just as I felt after my trip to Uganda, I miss the personal conversations over a lingering meal, sharing priceless memories and planning no further than the next day. I’ve found myself being drawn back to my usual routine, with over 200 emails to be answered upon my return and a schedule that makes me ready for Friday afternoon. I’ve noticed the fatigue, foggy brain and stress caused by infobesity as I crave silence. I’m also reminded that I control my calendar. It should not control me. My infobesity detox can be part of every day, not just a benefit of an occasional vacation or weekend getaway.
Will you join me? Here are a few things we might do to combat the effects of this widespread malady.
- Unplug from the world. Spend time with friends or family in focused conversation, without the distractions of the television. Look them in the eyes and listen to what they are saying.
- Kick the addiction of “nomophobia” by putting your phone down. Put it in a drawer if you have to, and set a timer! Pretend it’s 1970 when phones were only used for making calls, not multi-tasking.
- Go outdoors and soak in nature. There is always something to be thankful for, so go on a gratitude walk instead of checking your social media. Look at the stars, the moon, the clouds, the grass… They are all marvels to behold.
- See how much white space you can leave on your calendar each day. Busyness is not a badge of honor. Rest is essential to living life well.
- Smile at everyone, and don’t let the world bring you down. Be the ray of sunshine in someone’s otherwise overwhelming day, and take comfort that God is in control. Only He knows how all this chaos is going to turn out, and that should bring peace to our souls.