Thursday, August 25, 2011

The internet

We had a visitor at church Sunday, and he gave the devotional.  One thing he said really got through to me: I can't remember the quote exactly, but he said that with all our electronic gadgets, God can hardly get through any more.  Our minds are filled with beeping, ringing, flashing screens...

I had actually been thinking it for a while.  It tends to creep up on me, so many fun and worthwhile places to be a part of.  It's not hard to find a ministry of types on the internet, and it certainly fulfills my desire to write.  But once in a while, I need to step back from it, look at what I'm doing, and let some things go.

I've let the computer fill up too much of my time, I knew that before the preacher spoke.  I had already let go of some things - When my small job writing parenting articles for Associated Content was lost in the site's revamping, I decided to quit trying to write articles so much.  It brought a little bit of money, but not enough to justify the time I spent on it.

And then there were some of the sites I've joined.  I have been on three internet groups, and even inherited the ownership of one, an adoption group.  This group has all three members of the "triad" on it: the birthmothers, the adoptive mothers and the adoptees themselves.  But once I became owner, I realized just how much fighting went on on that group.  Because when two mothers - usually a birthmother and an adoptive mother - came up against each other, I was the one that got all the private messages, wanting me to sort it out.  Most of the time, it wasn't clear to me who was right and who was wrong...some groups are private and some groups are open where anyone can see what people write.  Drama or hurt feelings from one group ended up spilling over onto our group.  I just couldn't sort it all out, and that made some people pretty wasn't long before the group wasn't a lot of fun anymore.
Which made me sad, because this was the group that taught me that all you hear about adoption really isn't true...Birthmothers actually hurt like crazy and never get over the loss their children, whether they voluntarily relinquished them or lost them to the state.  I learned that it isn't good to hide things from adoptees until they are grown, it's better if they just grow up knowing their own 'truths'.  That you don't tell your child their first mothers loved them so much they gave them up, because in the child's mind, what if you end up loving the them that much, too?  That no matter how hard an adoptive mother tries to make a "new" life for her adopted child, there are issues with adoption that just aren't found with birth children, and you need to educate yourself if you want to raise a mentally sound person.
All that was good, but the anger that spilled over at times from this emotionally charged group wasn't good, at least not for me. 
I fit better on the foster/adoption group.  I am also an administrator there, but not the owner, so the brunt of the group doesn't fall on me.  And the emotions don't run so high there; the group is most just foster or adoptive mothers giving support, advice and passing on knowledge and resources to each other.  There is hardly ever a show of anger.  Another good group is 'adoption from adoptees point of view', which I like, because I get to listen too and ask questions of adoptees.

Changing my internet provider last week made it easy to pick and choose which things I wanted to keep and which things I would let go.  There was suddenly a lot less mail in my inbox.
And that was okay, but I decided for even more drastic measures...I decided that I would get up early in the morning, and that would be my time to write.  I would work on my book then, check my groups and anything else I wanted to look at, but once my family began to wake up, I would turn the computer off.  Not just get out of my chair, I would turn it off.  And it would stay off all day until the kids went to bed.  Then, if I wasn't too tired myself, I would turn it back on to write, check emails and my groups.  But for the whole day, it would be off.

I already knew that the computer could be an addiction, but I was surprised to find that I was using it as a stress reliever.  If the house got loud, if the kids fought, if I just finished a big housework duty, I found my eyes looking towards the room the computer was in, and the urge to go check things "just for a minute" was VERY strong.  I was using the computer as an escape, a place where I could zone out and relax for a few minutes - which easily could turn into quite a few minutes...
The second day was easier, although when Gage used my computer a few minutes and didn't turn it off, I did check up on my emails, because I had put my goats on Craigslist and wanted to see if I had gotten an response.
The third day wasn't hard.  I didn't seem to look towards the computer so much.  One thing I noticed, though, was that I had grown used to having all the answers to anything I was wondering about at my fingertips.  So I sat a piece of paper by the keyboard, and if there was something I wanted to know, or something I just remembered I needed to do, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget when I finally had my computer time.  Often, I find when I sit down at my desk that I'm either not interested in or don't need those things anymore.

I know many people totally live without the internet, and I could, too.  But it does make life for a stay at home mom easier.  I bank and shop online.  It's a good place to find resources for homeschooling.  If I just have a quick thing to say, I can send off an email with a few words, where a phone call will probably keep me tied up for a while once I get talking.  Facebook is nice for keeping up with the lives of some of my grandchildren, and I've reconnected with a lot of people, including some from my childhood and young married years.

I've always said the internet should be a tool, not a source of entertainment.  It's dangerous in many ways if you don't control it, but so are a lot of things.  The state of our hearts with God determines whether we get in trouble or not.  I don't "surf" the web just to see what I can find.  We have a good filter on the laptops the children use.  What I am learning these days is not to use the computer as a way to zone out, or relieve stress.

My mind is clearer and I've gotten more done when I don't run in to check on something "just for a minute"!

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