As legend has it, mothers of yesteryear wasted their home-bound hours eating bon bons and watching soap operas. I don’t sneak bon bons and, in an age of streaming, television simply isn’t a temptation. My big temptation is the Internet.
Don’t get me wrong. The Internet is an amazing tool that makes homemaking and mothering that much easier, allows me to keep in touch with extended family, and shop for the things I need in a little town with limited products. But the Internet also robs me of hours and life. At time, it keeps me locked into a glut of pinning and never doing, of consuming information but never transmitting the value of the information to my children, of friend-ing people but not actually pursuing the real, in-flesh friendships in front of me. It horrifies me that my children would grow up and think that I cared more about sitting in front my computer than reading to them, creating and cooking together, and just being.
I know I’m not the only one with an Internet addiction. My brother-in-law gave up the Internet for a year. My sister has this picture on her desktop to keep her focused as she works on her computer and has written about how screen time, including the Internet, rewires our brains for the worse. Author Alain de Botton compares the destructive capability of the Internet to pornography:
“Pornography, like alcohol and drugs, weakens our ability to endure the kinds of suffering that are necessary for us to direct our lives properly. In particular, it reduces our capacity to tolerate those two ambiguous goods, anxiety and boredom. Our anxious moods are genuine but confused signals that something is amiss, and so they need to be listened to and patiently interpreted – which is unlikely to happen when we have to hand one of the most powerful tools of distraction ever invented. The entire internet is in a sense pornographic, it is a deliverer of constant excitement which we have no innate capacity to resist, a system which leads us down paths many of which have nothing to do with our real needs. Furthermore, pornography weakens our tolerance for the kind of boredom which is vital to give our minds the space in which good ideas can emerge, the sort of creative boredom we experience in a bath or on a long train journey.” Source
You can understand, then, that I was thrilled to discover an e-book, The Un-Wired Mom by Sarah Mae, on this very topic. The Un-Wired Mom is a quick, easy read. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom who writes about her own struggle with Internet with candor and grace, and includes short essays on the same topic from several of her friends and mentors. She closes the book by challenging mothers with “Two-Week UnWired Challange” complete with a daily questions to journal and practical ways to live fully and joyfully in the mundane of real life.
I plan on doing her Unwired Challenge next month. But in the meanwhile, I am already incorporating some of her suggestions such as installing Self-Control on my Mac to block certain websites for certain time periods. I am also “going dark” in the mornings to focus on my children. Will it work every day? Maybe not. Will it require discipline? Absolutely. But as Sarah writes, “If we are the Father’s children, we can trust Him to help us with our discipline issues.”