Lent 2013 starts Wednesday, Feb. 13: Why I'm not giving up technology

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 12, 2013 

Stop me if you've heard this story before: A reporter temporarily abandons social media and learns it's easier to enjoy your surroundings when you're not constantly checking Facebook and Twitter.

Sound familiar? I thought so.

That's why the results of a recent Pew Research Center study aren't too surprising. The study suggests "some 61 percent of Facebook users had taken a hiatus of at least several weeks" from the popular social network, according to an Associated Press article.

I read about the study days before receiving a press release urging couples to take a "Tech Timeout" for Valentine's Day.

It's fair to assume many people will give up social media for Lent, which begins Wednesday.

I'm not one of those people.

Trust me, I wish I could join the club. Yet I'm part of a generation that's tied to social media not only as a personal outlet, but also as a professional expectation.

Nearly all my "real world" jobs have come with an unspoken condition: constant accessibility. Want to advance professionally? Many employers will now ask for your Twitter handle -- not only as a makeshift background check, but also as proof that you are intellectually curious and technologically savvy. All. The. Time.

"I was unplugging" might have some value as an explanation for an unanswered email -- just not in a competitive job market.

So I'm slightly jealous of those who still have the freedom to log off.

But aside from the temporary serenity, how many of us actually learn long-term lessons after giving up technology?

Isn't it only natural to enjoy the break, log back in and then spend the rest of the day complaining about the deluge of messages occupying your inbox?

If you want to incorporate technology into your Lenten resolutions, perhaps it's more effective to use it in a different way rather than giving it up entirely.

By giving up social media, you're arguably cutting off human connections during a season that's largely defined by relationships.

Maybe Lent is a time to use Facebook to build real, genuine friendships instead of arbitrary digital ties.

Resolve to personalize the digital birthday greetings you send. Resolve to ask at least one Facebook friend for his or her physical address -- and then send a card there. Once you move beyond the limits of your daily routine, the possibilities seem endless.

It couldn't come at a better time. Lent's arrival coincides with Random Acts of Kindness Week, which is under way through Feb. 17.

And while a digital pat on the back might not feel as good as a real one, I'm guessing the average person won't discriminate.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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