I ask Google for everything.
I have four screens I survive on daily. (Laptop, mobile, watch, iPad)
I keep everything backed-up, offsite, and encrypted.
I get all my news from a device.
I would rather text than call.
I speak fluent Siri.
I have not been inside a bank since the Bush administration. (Okay, maybe that one time)
I’m a willing and happy participant in this frenetic digital age. However, I have a growing fascination for all things analog.
My office is filled with some old tech from the 80’s and beyond. With one turn of my head I can see two old cameras (Continental 250-C circa1985 and a Yashica-Mat circa 1957) one cabinet Victrola VV 260 from the 30’s (record player), and my Dad’s old slide rule from the 60’s (calculator). It’s not like I’m a hoarder, stuff just makes it my way. I haven’t yet paid real money for any of it.
So what does all this mean?
I believe it means that, like you, I too am navigating mesh point between the switches and gears of yesterday into the glass and nanotech of today. So, no judgment here. We are all trying to just do the best we can.
The point I want to make here though is that the more I’m digitized, the more distracted I’ve become. Since I have access to the sum of the world’s information and entertainment…I chase rabbits. This becomes especially true when I spend times alone with God. But am still “plugged in.”
So, I’ve had to modify the way I spend time with God in order to guard against needless distraction. Here are three habits of analog living that have helped me avoid digital distraction:
- Choose Paper: Grabbing the “book version” of the Bible filled with…real paper; a table of contents, some maps, and maybe a concordance if you are lucky is a great place to start. Get your favorite pen and start marking that thing up as your move from page to page. If you think to yourself, “what if I fill the margins and am not able to make more notes?” You can easily set yourself free by just getting another. I find that the less study tools or references streamline my focus on the words on the page. I use a study bible for message preparation or a deeper dive into a passage. For devotional times that are “just for you,” go with the trimmed down version and ask the Lord to bring cross-references to mind to meditate on.
- Write Stuff Down: This can be the best and worst idea for some people. I spent years pressuring myself to make daily entries, recapping my day, and including as many details as possible. This became a job! In later years I have attempted to only grab a few key words from each passage I read. This way, I am remembering bite sized, easily digestible pieces that I can reference later. When important occasions arise whether it’s a crisis or a celebration, I’ll commit them to the journal, but not feel obligated to go into detail about every mundane fact. (What else is “the Facebook” for?!)
- Step Away From Your Device: Even as I type this, I know your heart rate just jumped up….calm down. I feel your pain. I like my bible apps too and I use them frequently. The point I want to make with this one is to use them in the right sequence. Usually my first impulse is to either check the date (for my daily reading plan), which leads me to see that I need to check a few texts, then some email, and then I’m totally derailed. Instead, I check that date and then force myself to close it back up. This allows me to get my “first meeting” of the day off on the right foot.
Do you have some analog habits to contribute to the conversation? Comment below! We look forward to hearing from you!
Stephen Smith (@stephenandstar) serves on the Leadership Team at Houston’s First Baptist Church. He shepherds four teams within the church: Music, Multisite, Media, and Marketing. He spends the remainder of his time these days with his head in a book or dealing with an unruly yard. His passion is leading worship through song with his wife Star and leveraging their lives to see ministry multiplied in their home church and beyond.