I don’t have a Netflix account.
I can hear all the other college students gasping.
Last September I finally deactivated my Netflix account. The reason: watching Netflix makes me feel gross. My sophomore year in college I spent a lot of time on Netflix and I LOVED it, but beginning the spring of my junior year, I found myself unable to shake the feeling of unwashed hermit-ness that overtakes me whenever I watch shows or movies on Netflix. It’s like I haven’t had a shower in a week.
This is a symptom of a larger theme that’s sweeping my life, and maybe yours, too: a recoiling from my screens, a divorce from technology.
It seems that our Western world is experiencing a sort of revolt against the very technology that it created. There have been countless studies released on the effects of technology on relationships, mental health, and emotions. My generation — the millennials — are truly addicted to technology. There have been studies done that show that when millennials are separated from their phones, they go through the same withdrawal symptoms as users of heavy drugs. What’s more, everyone knows it’s rude to be on your device when you’re around other people. We can sense what it does to us: when I’ve spent a long time on technology, I feel disconnected and disoriented, like I’ve just woken up from a long nap. I feel empty and, honestly, a little disgusted with myself.
I am coming to realize that this is no way to live.
I’ll be the first to admit that technology is a wonderful thing. I am typing this on my laptop, which is a marvelous tool. And I keep track of most of my activities and obligations on my joint phone/computer calendar. I have the blog and my two remaining social media accounts, and I love me some iTunes. But I don’t want to spend my entire life curled up inside technology. In fact, if I had my druthers (to use a very Southern phrase), I’d like to live a life as much outside of screens as I possibly can.
Because time absorbed in technology is time that could be spent pursuing the things I love, doing work I truly believe in, living out my calling.
And I think that’s a much fuller life.
Back in September, I decided Netflix wasn’t worth keeping around, even if I wanted to watch something: I don’t use it enough to merit its drain on my bank account $8.99 buys lunch). With that came the cessation of my TV watching during the course of my day-to-day life. Soon after, I deleted Pinterest (I LOVE Pinterest) and Snapchat (I do not love Snapchat). I’ve kept only Facebook and Instagram. I’m still more addicted to those than I would like to be: I still pick up my phone and start scrolling simply out of habit, simply because I am looking for a distraction. But I’m slowly, surely learning to take steps to get myself away from my screen-dependance. I’m learning to set the phone down and focus on the work that I truly believe in.
Because I don’t believe in Facebook. Facebook is not adventurous.
I’m learning to use technology as a tool.
I’m learning that I don’t have to have my phone attached to me all the time.
I’m learning that these are only little additions to my life. My life is not inside them.
It is outside. In the music, in the words, in the people, in the books, in the literal Great Outdoors. In Jesus.
I want to live my calling, my adventure. I’ve never found that in a screen. I’ve found it on a walk, in the practice room, in my time alone with God.
And that’s where I want to live.