97 Comments

Thank you for how practical you made the post. It is one thing to talk about the evils of screens, it is quite another to lay out a plan for behavior change.

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Ruth- This is exactly what we all need to start doing. Thank you. -Jack

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Thanks for this article.

I may be an outlier here, in that I own a smartphone (a de-Googled one), but I don't use it in the ways that you're describing. For some reason, I never got hooked on it in the typical way. It's almost never connected to a network (either wifi or cell), and I don't have any social media or email apps on it (I am not on Facebook or Twitter). In short, it's not a communication device (except for the rare phone calls when on the road). Instead, I use it as a piano tuner, a bird guide, a hike recorder, an appointment calendar. None of these uses requires connection to a network. I can go for days without looking at the thing.

In other words, it's like an old-school PDA that can make phone calls in an emergency. But I recognize the potentially addictive quality of the thing, and maybe that's one reason why I never got hooked. And I recognize that people who are already addicted will probably not be able to restrict their use of the device in the minimalist way I'm describing -- going cold turkey is probably the only way.

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I nod in agreement to all of this and especially to the expression of severity of its reality. You have my wheels turning actually because so much has shifted in our lives since moving off grid. It’s been gradual and intentional change and we live very much in this digital detox realm all the time now. The days I dip into more normalcy (lying in bed checking my email on my phone) are during periods of time that my own stress is up, when I’m struggling with loneliness or unhappiness and then picking up the smart phone is so easy. But on the whole, this is an exception in the new everyday of our lives. I just bought a new journal because I needed something other than my computer to start putting down my essays and ideas. Perhaps I’ll crack the cover today with this very topic!

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Apr 27, 2023Liked by Ruth Gaskovski

This was one phenomenal article! Thank you, Ruth, and please count me in for the Digital Detox in May!

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Apr 26, 2023Liked by Ruth Gaskovski

I will definitely join your May "Detox" and add to some of the techniques I already use to separate myself from 'the Machine.' I also found Cal Newport's book helpful. A bit of a tangent, but I was reminded today that standing - or traveling - against the powers that govern our society is not a new challenge. In Matthew 10:5, Jesus says, "... Do not travel on a gentile road...." Why not? These were the major thoroughfares for travel. In Matthew: A Commentary, R. Alan Culpepper writes, "the building of major roads in Galilee introduced foreign trade and cultures, so the Hellenization and Romanization of Galilee literally traveled on these new roads, which were marked with milestones. Chancy explains: 'The milestones not only marked the distances, they served to make sure that everyone knew just whose territory - Rome's - was being crossed'" We see something similar with the government's control of the internet.

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A very important essay. Child rearing is the most important thing in the world. Maybe even the only important.

I would like to join the May experiment!

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I would quite like to join in in this digital detox! I am getting married in May, so it seems like a perfect time to get off my phone/computer and connect more deeply with my (soon-to-be) husband. We have actually discussed not having an internet connection in our home at all, at least to start out with. We own a business and we already pay for internet at the store (where I spend 9+ hours a day, 5 days a week anyways) so anything internet-wise that needs to be done can probably be done there. Also, he is planning to by a flip phone or “dumb phone” once we are married, and I will maintain my own cell phone strictly for business/communication purposes. Unfortunately, social media is a HUGE part of how we market our business, so I won’t be able to quit that at this point, but I know I can definitely set better boundaries around using it only for business purposes instead of mindlessly scrolling. I just wanted to say, I love your Substack and I find it encouraging to hear that other folks are thinking so deeply about the dangers of digital media and the internet. Can’t wait to read what you write next!

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I would like to join the May experiment -- it’s okay to be part of the group if I don’t happen to be Christian I hope?

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Jun 13, 2023Liked by Ruth Gaskovski

“How to have a healthy relationship with your addiction” — capsule review of Tech-Wise.

I felt a little bad about being critical of this book when it came out— why am I always so dissatisfied with mainstream Christian-y writing, I wondered? — but your summary is exactly right. The problem we face is an existential threat to children.

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May 1, 2023Liked by Ruth Gaskovski

I'm joining the 30 day Digital Detox. I did a 4 day media fast and it helped a lot. But then the slippery slope back into checking email/text, distractions, cravings all started again. So it's clear I need to do this for much longer. Thanks for this opportunity. I'll be very interested to read others' experiences and report my own at the end of the month.

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I was very pleased to see Justin’s work at Stay Grounded mentioned throughout this piece. He’s a decent bloke and his work is hugely underrated in my opinion.

And after a brief seaside holiday recently where I didn’t take or use any screens whatsoever, I have become massively re attuned to the crucial importance of Digital Minimalism. Thanks.

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Apr 26, 2023Liked by Ruth Gaskovski

I am joining the 30 day digital detox too. I enjoyed Digital Minimalism and found it useful, but it is so easy to be pulled back in, even without social media. I think a refresh of intentional digital activity and inactivity is necessary to get back on track!

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I’m joining in the 30 day digital detox. I’ve already been making some attempts towards something like it so this will be a good gauge as to how I’m doing and how I can improve. Should be a good time!

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Once again, Ruth, a stirring essay. Thanks again for the encouragement to defy this machine and for clearly spelling out the dangers it possesses when uncontrolled.

I've been away on vacation and haven't ready any essays for about a week. Today I return to this article, Peco's latest on technology and saints and Jack Leahy's latest essay as well. What a day of reading it has been!

All that being said, I'm joining the 30 day detox and am so excited to do so. Thanks for the challenge! Very much looking forward to the beauty that will emerge.

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I already do so many of these things and wrote about some of them here: https://griefgritandgrace.substack.com/p/escape-the-trap-of-conformity

I'd be very interested in further codifying and expanding this practice for 30 days. Please let me know next steps.

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