Every year during the season of Lent, I fast from the internet. Lent begins tomorrow.
Lent is the season of the Christian calendar when we traditionally give up something in penitential preparation for Easter. The season begins with Ash Wednesday and runs through Palm Sunday, although the fast is usually extended through Holy Week until the Easter Vigil.
Every year at this time, I give up those parts of the internet that are not essential to my professional life. That is, I continue to answer email and to do work-related research, but will not be keeping up with my feedreader, Twitter, etc. If there are relevant things that I want to post on this blog, I will be doing that, but otherwise expect radio silence until Easter.
Why do I do this? Because the internet is wonderful. I value the added connectivity very highly – having constant access to the internet makes it much more possible to be informed about the world and about people I care for. Stepping away from all that for a while helps me remember why I value it so highly, makes it feel all the more precious to me the rest of the year. (It also helps remind me which parts of my online life are truly valuable – you wouldn’t believe how many blogs I unsubscribe from around Easter!)
Also, what good is a fast if it’s not from something that you really value? I’ve occasionally heard people discuss fasting like it’s a New Years’ resolution – a chance to cut out some luxury in their life that they know they should probably do without, like alcohol or sweets. If you think you would be better off without it, it isn’t a fast, it’s just an aborted attempt to establish a good habit. Fasting should be hard, it should involve giving up something that is genuinely important to you, because it’s important to you.
So: An internet fast. I’ll see you all on Easter.