When I was young, I used to imagine what my life would look like in the future. Who would I marry? (Turns out Dan.) What would my children look like? (Tall by the way.) Now, believe it or not, I am trying to imagine what my life would look like if I fasted from digital media each Friday. “Digital” in the broadest sense means computerized technology. This would, of course, include smartphones, apps and the Internet.
Would I get fidgety? Would I break out in sweat? Would I be (gasp) bored? What would I do if I avoided emails, the web, social media and streaming for one day?
I’m asking myself these questions because I have decided that I am in favor of observing or at least exploring the idea of a digital fast each Friday. Although I haven’t started yet. (Is that even practical?)
Why Friday? I’m Catholic so it makes sense on so many levels.
Why a Digital Fast? I just completed a six-month program called the Church Communications Ecology Program presented by the McGrath Institute of Notre Dame University. The program seeks to help parishes thrive in the digital age. As one might guess, people can’t get involved with parish life if they’re streaming a movie, listening to a podcast or watching dance videos on Tik Tok. We also can’t spend silent time or quality time with God and one another. These observations are not lost on anyone, least of all, the folks at Notre Dame University. Hence, the need for the program they started in 2021 that is funded by a Lilly Endowment Grant.
What have I learned in a nutshell? People of faith are blessed and challenged by the digital technology of our time. It’s really a mixed bag. The challenges we face are not only the obvious ones of fake news and spam. It’s deeper. Much deeper.
I’ll be sharing some of the concerns as well as the virtues and habits that support healthy and holy families. We want to create an ecology where families and churches can thrive so we can become the people God created us to be. That’s the gist of this new blog/radio series I’m starting, Making Space for Grace.
So, if you would like to join me on this journey, try to imagine what your life might look like if you fasted from digital once a week. Fridays if you’re Catholic.
-By Teresa Peterson
p.s. Let me know what you think and how you are Making Space for Grace! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org