Have ya heard? Ask Aunt Katie is hosting a SmartFreedom Challenge for Lent. If you'd like to join the Challenge you can request to join the facebook group or email AskAuntKatie@gmail.com for more info! We'll still have our Friendsday Wednesdays, Boozeday Tuesdays, Theology Thursdays and the rest this Lent, so those of you who are already unchained from your SmartPhones won't be left out!
Now put your phone down and read this on a computer like a person experiencing that sweet, sweet Freedom!
Welcome to the Lent 2018 #SmartFreedom Challenge!
The temptation is to write a long beautiful post, philosophizing about a time gone by where we made long lingering eye contact at dinner, spoke to strangers in waiting rooms, and drove without distraction, but why tell you what you already know? If you signed up for this #SmartFreedom Challenge, then my guess is that you are a little grossed out by your own phone usage. The hours wasted scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling, the fortune spent when drinking and priming, the anxiety you feel when you don’t know where your phone is… we’ve all been there. Most of us are there right now. Myself, definitely included!
Beginning with Ash Wednesday we will journey together toward freedom from our phones! We’re not talking total freedom--though we will have a 24 hour phone free challenge later in Lent, but we are focusing on building up healthy habits for limiting our phone usage.
I am no expert. I promise no miracle cures. But I do promise to do all of the same things you are being challenged to do this season!
The Plan: From SmartPhone to SmartFreedom!
First, we will have some Ground Rules. These ground rules apply for the length of the challenge. The Ground Rules begin Day 1 (Ash Wednesday) and continue throughout the duration of Lent. Note: These rules are healthy practices we should all be following anyway, so I encourage you to adopt them indefinitely.
In addition to the Ground Rules, there will be a Weekly Challenge. Weekly Challenges always begin on Sunday. You are encouraged to keep each Weekly Challenge and allow the challenges to build on each other. After all, the goal is detachment!
Finally, you will receive a Daily Challenge, Exercise, or Reflection to help you along the way. Sometimes we will explore our motivations, our particular bad habits, and what the Lord has to say about freedom, silence, and community.
Speaking of the Lord, here’s a little verse to get you started:
Call to me, and I will answer you;
I will tell you great things beyond the reach of your knowledge.
See, the Lord is saying, “You don’t need to google that answer, or Facebook stalk your ex, or text all the things to all the people. Talk to me. Call to me. Whatever peace, joy, fix you’re looking for out of that phone--you’re not going to find it. Call to me.” We just have to stop scrolling long enough to listen to this invitation.
Community: The Final Piece for Peace
As we journey towards God and not Google, the Word and not Emojis, community IRL (in real life) and not texting, it is important to know we’re doing this together. The facebook group offers you an opportunity to comment on your progress, the good, the bad, and the less than progressive. By no means do you ever need to comment on any of the posts, but know that this is a place where you can ask for help. Know that you are in my prayers--and please be praying for each other! Any form of detachment is painful, let’s not do it alone.
Without further ado… here is your First Challenge: the Ground Rules! This Challenge lasts for ALL OF LENT! So as each week progresses we will continue to follow the Day One Rules! Ready? Me neither.
10 SmartFreedom Ground Rules:
We’ll start with the obvious and work our way down (Note: 1-4 + 10 are non-negotiable)...
(1) No phone usage while driving.
Meaning: no texting, no googling, no social media of any kind, no email, no Netflix, no internet, no Siri (again, this is about detachment), no phone usage.
Exceptions: GPS + Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks, etc. (NOTE: only search for your location, song selection, etc. before you have put the car in drive!)
Suggestion: Look into “Do Not Disturb While Driving” it is a very cool new feature for iPhones. NOTE: Don’t look into it while driving.
(2) No phone in the bathroom.
I don’t feel that I need to explain myself. You know who you are.
Added Benefit: You can’t drop the phone in the toilet if you don’t have it on you.
Suggestion: Keep your phone out of your pocket when you can… leave it in your purse, gym bag (is that still a thing?), locker, desk drawer, etc. If you’re at work, school, or at home--you don’t need your phone in the bathroom.
(3) No phone during meals.
Yup. Meaning: no phone.
Let me repeat: no texting, no googling, no watching a show, no responding to a text, no reading tomorrow’s SmartFreedom Challenge, no social media. NO.PHONE.DURING.MEALS. Even if everyone else is on their phones… Even if you’re dining alone and you feel super awkward. Even if you’re dining alone and you’re at home. This rule ain’t easy.
Suggestion: Turn it off and leave it in your bag or pocket or car. If it is on you will be tempted to “check the time” then you’ll see your missed messages, and it’s all over from there.
(4) Communicate about your lack of communication. Tell the person who would most freakout that you haven’t responded that you’re doing this SmartFreedom Challenge (i.e. your mother. Tell your mother you will be unable to respond for brief to not so brief periods of time.) We are working on detaching from our SmartPhones, not detaching our loved ones from their mental health. If your mom, husband, cousin, bff, frenemy, etc. is going to think you’re dead if you haven’t responded for 20 minutes because you’re eating, driving, or otherwise--warn them!
(5) Prudence in all things. If your daughter is driving by herself for the first time to a sleepover in a sketchy neighborhood--(1) rethink that decision, (2) keep your phone on you… You know the difference between being on call at the hospital or being on call just in case your friends might have plans to go out but they might not and you don’t really feel like going anyway but you at least want the option because it is always nice to be invited. You know when and where you can turn your phone off, or on silent, or just leave it in the next room.
(6) Be gentle with yourself. We’re using the word Challenge because these are challenging!
(7) Toughen up, buttercup. You wanted to be challenged. Let it hurt.
(8) Ask the group for help when needed. We will be posting weekly “How is it going?” or “Victory Lap” posts where you get the opportunity to share your shame or glory.
(9) Not required, but a suggestion: Do a little phonexamen at the end of the day… How did today go? Thumbs up or down? When did I go into screen zombie mode? What triggered it? Was I in bed? Was I in a waiting room? At a stoplight? What will I do tomorrow to catch myself before I phzone out?
(10) Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you can take your gaze off of the screen and back onto the King.