No Communication

“…Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord…” Zechariah 8:21 NKJV

What is it like to go a day without media? What if you had to give up your cell phone, iPad, iPod, television, car radio, instant messaging, and computer for 24 hours? Could you do it?

In 2010, a study was conducted asking 200 students at the University of Maryland—College Park to abstain from using all media for 24 hours.

“We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were incredibly addicted to media,” noted the project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda [ICMPA] which conducted the study. “But we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family.”1

A similar study, “The World Unplugged” released April 5, 2011, also conducted by ICMPA, asked about 1,000 students in 10 countries on five continents to give up all media for 24 hours. The results were strikingly similar. “For many students, going without media ripped back the curtain on a hidden loneliness. For some students the problem went beyond that. Some recognized that online connections had been substituting for real friendships.”2

The student quotes below come from both studies (emphasis mine):

  • “During cardio exercises, listening to yourself breathe really drains your stamina.”
  • “Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort
  • “I have more TV channels memorized than math formulas.”
  • “I spend at least 1-2 hours on these sites before I even start my homework.”
  • “I always text and drive.”
  • “My dad doesn’t use the spacebar—justonelongword.”
  • “My short attention span prevented me from accomplishing much, so I stared at the wall for a little bit.”
  • “I can say without exaggeration, I was almost freaking out.”
  • “I had to walk to class and stare at everyone as I passed—I had nothing else to do.”
  • “Sometimes I check weather.com to see if it’s raining.”
  • “I felt phantom vibrations all throughout the day.”
  • “I noticed that I began to fidget, as if addicted to my iPod and other devices.”
  • “I have to listen to my iPod to fall asleep.”
  • “I can’t drive without music playing.”
  • I get lost when I can’t access Google map on my iPhone.”
  • “I answer my phone in my sleep and have conversations I don’t remember.”
  • “I love my phone and I don’t want to live in a world without technology.”

Some students reported that they caught up with their priorities.

  • “I was very productive in my school work and I was able to get ahead this week with all my midterms coming up.”
  • I paid more attention during lecture without the temptation of Facebook.”

Who could have guessed that “quality time” meant “media-free” time?

But…

What if you gave up prayer for a day? Would you become bored, stare at the wall, go into withdrawals, or would you “freak out?”

Or maybe you need to pray to fall asleep or drive a car? Could you ever be so addicted to talking with God to admit, “I can’t live in a world without prayer”?

References & Notes: 1. https://theworldunplugged.wordpress.com/about/ 2. https://reflections.yale.edu/article/ibelieve-facing-new-media-explosion/long-days-journey-absatining-media-or-trying and http://www.newswise.com/articles/study-shows-students-are-addicted-to-social-media

Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University. A condensed version of this article first appeared in the Pioneer Memorial Church bulletin on January 25, 2014. It is reprinted here with permission.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8578
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Hearing about “Tech Sabbaths” or an “internet Sabbath” is commonplace among non-Adventists, these days, but I don’t hear that as much from Adventists. What happened, there? I remember when “no-television, no radio, no secular magazines or newspapers” was assumed as a part of Sabbath observance. Again, we seem to be taking lessons from the “secular” world the way we have on issues of health.

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Interestingly, cutting off communication is exactly what God uses to remind us of Him when we have drifted so far away that we become unfeeling and careless. Suddenly, we grow fearful. Dread overcomes us. And we cry out. Those are the symptoms of “no communication” when it is realized.

Consider the judgment against King Nebuchadnezzar, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” (Dan. 4:31-32)

For good measure, read King David’s prayer of Psalm 51. Consider its story.

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