Unplugged for 40 days and 40 nights: How I found time to start writing my first book!
It may be hard for those in my social network to tell, but I’m pretty late when it comes to adopting new technology. Though I’m pretty active on Twitter (I manage three accounts), Instagram (…two accounts), and Facebook (my personal account, and three group accounts), I was later to the platforms than most. I’ve yet to use Uber or Lift.
I came to social media as a means to an end…a way to continue the passion for Community Organizing I developed in the U.S. Peace Corps and eventually nurtured as a campaign staffer for the Obama 2008 Campaign and eventually as an education advocate and now policy maker.
For years, social media gave me real time access to people it took me days, or even weeks, to contact. I eventually used my social media presence to begin organizing around my passions for celebrating Fatherhood, recruting men to teaching, public education reform, and Morehouse College, my alma mater.
Over time, social media became a permanent fixture in my mind. Any free time I had I would check one of my accounts. First thing in the morning, while I brushed my teeth, while fixing my kids breakfast, while driving them to school [or driving anywhere], during dinner, during bath time, during pillowtalk with my wife, and even in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I diagnosed myself as a Social Media Addict.
Every year our church uses Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, to fast from something in order to dedicate time to getting closer to God because we believe “to deny the flesh is to be closer to God.” In years past, I fasted from sugary drinks, alcohol, television, and even red meat. But this year I knew it was time to truly deny myself something that was keeping me from dedicating time to my God-given gifts.
This year, I decided to fast from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for 40 days and 40 nights…to go into the wildnerness like Jesus did. At first my wife didn’t believe me, but when saw I’d erased the apps from my phone she was convinced.
After the first few days, I saw myself reaching for my phone throughout the day only to realize I’d erased the apps. The additional time and space I’d freed up in my mind eventually led me to initiate new ideas and download old ones.
Within a week, I found myself jotting down ideas for books I’d previously never thought about writing. I eventually began outlining ideas for a book on fatherhood. Though I’d previously spent a healthy amount of time promoting fatherhood on social media, the time was in short 1 or 2 minute clips that eventually added up to close to 2–3hrs a day. Only through truly unplugging could that 2–3hrs a day translate into lasting contribution to the world.
Needless to say, I was successful in fasting for 40 days without social media and have been sporadic in my use ever since. Due to my time unplugged, I began the process of interviewing fathers for my book, secured a noted Literary Agent and am finalizing a Book Proposal for my first publication.
When Arianna used her platform to celebrate unplugging from social media it gave others permission to do the same. I won’t let social media eat my time, bit by bit, at the expense of greater contributions I can make to the world. I lost my father last year, and since his death time has become more precious to me. I will make better use of my time. I will unplug as long as I need to because I know greater things will come of it!