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What I Learned After 40 Days Without Watching Videos

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For Lent this year I gave up watching videos. I avoided watching videos on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. On day one I broke my commitment because a friend went live and I immediately clicked on it and then suddenly realized what I had done. Why does Lent have to be hard?

It has to be hard because I don’t think we’re paying attention to our habits. Our habits are making us. Our habits of eating when we’re sad, habits of anger for no good reason and habits of watching endless videos to pass the time are making us who we are.

Habits reveal what we find important. After initially breaking my commitment on impulse, over the next 39 days I purposely broke my fast to watch three videos, Avengers End Game trainer, The Dead Don’t Die with Bill Murray and Old Time Road team up Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X.

One of the reasons I chose to not watch videos was to regulate my impulse control. I clicked on many videos whether I cared about the subject or not. I impulsively clicked on live videos of people I barely knew just to see what they were saying. Some of this is curiosity, but it’s really just my lack of impulse control disguised as curiosity.

I figure I watch about two hours of video a day across all my social media platforms. By the end of Lent I will have saved myself approximately 80+ hours of time. That’s a little over three days of continuous video watching.

Here’s what I’ve concluded about my journey,

I felt isolated

I don’t feel like I’m in on the joke or in the know. I’m not having tons of conversations with people, but if I did, I’d feel like I was out of the loop and would have nothing to share,

Have you seen… No

Have you watched…No

See what I mean.

I could control myself, if I want to

Overall I did a pretty good job of purposely not watching vides, which is hard since I make videos for youth workers and I’m always Youtube looking to resource them with new material through my Youth Ministry Round Up Newsletter.

Besides the videos which start automatically, I restrained myself from pushing click more often than not.

I got things done

I took these 80 hours and spent time writing, making videos and even eating a raw egg for the pleasure of my Facebook audience. That’s what you get for poking fun at the Internet.

I also managed time to write this series of bible study books for teenagers that has been on my mind for years.

Most of those 80 hours was time wasted. If I can continue to control my impulses, it makes me hopeful of what I could accomplish.

I had better than average devotional times

Because I saved a few minutes every morning by not watching videos, my first impressions for the day were not from social media stars but from the words of scripture.

I don’t have long devotion times as a rule in favor of multiple quiet times during the day. I was able to read, jot down a few thoughts and write down my prayer for the day. It’s not a sin to watch a few videos before having devotions, but I found that having my first input from the Holy Spirt was far more productive than listening to Jimmy Fallon’s monologue the night before.

I didn’t miss much

In the end everything I wanted to watch wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t a need. I’ll go back and watch some of what I missed, but not everything. Nothing I missed was life changing or soul saving.

I’m not 15, I’m 50. I have no one to impress. The internet is where I work and where I derive some pleasure, but it’s not my life.

What I missed most

An early morning laugh. A morning brain buzz from a Ted Talk. There certainly are some inspirational videos out there, but we can spend so much time being educated and inspired we’re not educating or inspiring others IRL.

So, yes, I missed my down town. I missed being “in the know” but I have gained a new perspective on how I spend my time, what I click on, what grabs my attention, how much I consume and for how long and what I am trading my time for.

I can now resume my watching within reason, with a new discipline and I can finally find out what everyone thought of Shazam.

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