Before Lent I had sickened myself with the internet. I was fed up of waking up then spending the next 20 minutes, checking email, updating Facebook, reading Twitter and checking the various news sources.
I had also got bored of sitting watching TV, well when I say watching TV, staring at the box while mind numbing characters parade across not interesting me in the slightest.
And lastly I had not read a book since I had been on holiday four years ago and it shamed me. As a young child and then a teenager I used to go through at least two books per week, sometimes more and I wanted to get back into another world, where I could be lost amongst a writers words. I wanted to imagine how someone looked, how they smiled, rather than seeing a famous Hollywood star playing multitudes of different roles and I am supposed to pretend I haven’t seen him before.
So with all that in mind I got the notion I should try and give up the internet and technology for Lent. I am not a religious person, have never really believed in any entity that could be the big creator of Life, The Universe and Everything.
I think growing up in Belfast, seeing the trouble religion can cause for no particular reason can make you wonder why a god would allow things like that to happen (And I personally feel the counter argument of “Its God plan, and he doesn’t give you anything you can’t cope with” is lame but a well thought out excuse to explain the lack of spiritual intervention)
However Lent is a defined period and easily explained to people, so Lent it was going to be.
I set out the rules so I would, as best as possible, stay away for technology.
There would be a few exceptions:
1. I would be allowed to continue to look for a job on employment sites.
2. I would be allowed to access internet banking.
3. I would be allowed to conduct a small search if it had a creative purpose (i.e. I needed to check a detail for a story I was writing)
4. I was allowed a daily email check (Few companies use letters these days and I couldn’t risk missing a bill)
5. I would still allow myself to listen to the radio.
So the rules were set, and it loomed. As the clock turned onto 22nd February 2012, I deactivated my Facebook account, deleted Twitter, and turned the Wi-Fi on my laptop off.
Wow. I had done it. I had disconnected from the world which I had been involved for many years.
The first few days were tough; I sat around, taking my phone out of my pocket and then realizing there was no point put it back in again. I repeated this roughly 5 times an hour each day, until it finally got to the point, my brain stopped me before I reached.
I also realized how many times I turned to Google for answers or Wikipedia in times of boredom.
But now, with boredom on my side, I started to read. I managed to get through 10 books within that 40 day period. I started looking in the dictionary when I didn’t know the meaning of a word, rather than entering the search strong “Dictionary Ululated”.
I even visited the library to look something up in a book which had been bugging me for days (The library is literally 30ft away from my front door, so no big feat)
After the first week was over, and I stopped relying on my phone, and surprisingly did not miss Facebook at all, I started to enjoy the solitude. I chilled out during the day, music playing and read. From trashy fiction to stunning autobiography, to non-fiction, to classics and even a trip into the bible (on request), I read, and felt good for it.
I will post about some of the books which particularly touched me over the coming days, but I just wanted to drop in to say that Lent can be a very special time, which when used right can make a big difference to your life(whether you are religious or not)