Brooding On

Media Fasting

I've never been much of a news monger.  And lately, as I've been spending more and more time in our backyard, I've been extremely cut-off from the goings on of the world.  In fact, the other day, John was reading me an excerpt from an article about a recent fundraiser for Mitt Romney, and I remarked, "So, I guess that means Romney won the Republican nomination.  I forget this is an election year."  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I'm seriously that disconnected! 

We don't own a television, so I'm not watching any news.  We get a local paper, which I use for the grocery sales papers.  I rarely listen to the radio.  The bloggers I read are much more into heirloom tomatoes than pop culture or politics.  In fact, one blogger at Root Simple, recently wrote an article describing his year of intentional media fasting:
"At the beginning of my media fast, I was concerned that I would somehow lose touch with reality, with important details of what's going on in the world.  In fact, some news does reach me, filtered through conversations with friends and family.   . . . But the torrent of irrelevant details on the scandals, murders, wars, and political intrigue of modern life no longer cross the threshold of my consciousness.

"Yes, as citizens of whatever country we find ourselves in, we have a duty to be engaged in political change.  But I believe that most of us are better off focusing on politics at the local level where our voices can actually make a difference."

I acknowledge that it isn't advisable for everyone to live this way.  In fact, if my husband weren't so news literate, I might not feel comfortable being so illiterate myself.  But, as it is, I trust that if something were seriously important he would let me know about it.  And, admittedly, to cut myself off from daily news isn't a challenge for me.  When I was still teaching AP Language to high schoolers, it would've been irresponsible of me to cut myself off like this.  After all, my students depended on me to prepare them for the current events essay section of their exam.  But, unlike my husband, who pores over a plethora of political musings on his iPad each evening, I found it work to stay abreast of things.  Thankfully, the chickens and goats seem to be as apolitical as I am, so they're just fine with my being so out of the loop.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm no hermit.   I've not cut myself off from fellow bloggers who inform my decisions and workings on our little farm.  I have subscriptions to Runner's WorldAdoptive Family, Real Simple, and Mother Earth News, all of which I find captivating.  I've not cut myself off from Facebook, which allows me to communicate with friends and family.  But, the love life of Katie Holmes (I'm pretty sure I saw her face on a tabloid in the checkout line today) doesn't take up any of my mental energy.
Just this week, as I was contemplating (in the wake of the Romney realization) just how disconnected I am, I decided to pick up the local paper and have a little read.  The first article I saw described how a teen who was being held on suspicion of murder of another teen had hung himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell.   

And Philippians 4:8 came quickly to mind:
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

I think I could've done without that news story.  Without clutter like that, I find that my world is much more peaceful and more full.  My mind is more filled with the things that immediately concern me or that I can do something about.  I'm able to expend more mental energy in praise of God and His workings and less in worry and fear.  It's during my morning runs that I do most of my undisturbed thinking.  And it's then that I've noticed how much lighter I seem to be lately.  I can think through issues our family is dealing with, the things I need to get accomplished, and spend some time in prayer for those who I love most.   But, I don't get bogged down in thought during my runs.  I find that I'm pretty clear-headed without all the other junk occupying my mind.

Yes, there are definitely times when I feel completely lost in a conversation.  The Bachelorette, who's she?  When a news topic arises while I am among family and friends, though I can't contribute, I can take the opportunity to listen (something I should probably do more anyway).  

Could a media fast (even a short trial one) benefit you, too?