Edmundo saved the day! No, there wasn’t a real life or death threat, but we felt like it was an emergency. We five Americans were stuck on a rural Asian island with no internet and no wi-fi accessibility. What in the world were we supposed to do—not update Facebook? But our hotel had pink flowery sheets, turtles, and an aviary outside our window. This is classic status update material. We needed wi-fi, and Edmundo came charging in with his Samsung tablet and fully-charged Smartbro sim card in just the nick of time. Internet!
If you are like me, you enjoy being connected. On a deserted fisherman’s beach, I searched Around Me, just for the fun of seeing nothing within 40 miles. Being disconnected is somewhat akin to being sent involuntarily through de-tox. Who enjoys that? Increasingly, we are living in a web-connected world. Newsweek and others are very concerned that such ubiquitous connectivity is actually disconnecting us both from the rest of the world and from ourselves.
While I often dismiss such concerns as fear-mongering and joy-stealing, I think there is enough evidence beginning to mount that we ought to pay attention to our internet activity. Even more importantly, as Christians, we must do whatever we do—including using the internet—to glorify God. So, it seems we need an internet approach strategy. Here are 3 simple steps to keep the internet under your control.
The first step in learning best how to use the internet is to not use the internet. It sounds contradictory, but it is true. In an age that relies more and more on the internet and every wi-fi related iteration of it, we must not be led into thinking that the internet is as important as it seems. Its presence is everywhere, thus leading us to the erroneous conclusion that it is all-important. It simply is not. Start your day with the Bible and prayer, never with email or Facebook.
Don’t stop your practice of beginning with a word from God and with a responsive prayer back to God. There are things much more important than wi-fi book readers and smartphone apps. Discipline yourself daily for the purpose of godliness and don’t allow the internet to fool you into believing its more important than your daily walk with the Lord.
Prioritize Your Purpose
Second, when you do enter cyberspace, do so with great purpose. De-prioritize the internet in a general way (step one), then prioritize the internet in a specific way for a specific purpose. Why get on-line at all? Most likely, you get on-line for one of 3 distinct purposes:
Resources, Relationships, or Writing.
The internet is resource rich. Search the term “salmonella” (which I brought home from my last trip to Asia), and you will find 18.3 million websites related to it. Resources abound on the internet. Find the few resource sites you trust, bookmark them, then visit them when you need specific information.
Relationships are important, too, and the massive success of Facebook is a clear indication that folks want to use the internet to connect with other people. So, realize that you cannot keep up with everyone in the world, and narrow your “friends” or the people you “follow” to a small enough number that it keeps you honestly engaged in the lives of others. Don’t attempt to be the most popular guy on the planet. Keep the meaning of the word “friend” significant. Not all friends are equal, and acquaintances are not the same as friends. Keep your social network one which keeps you in touch with your family and friends.
Finally, some folks have something to say. The internet can surely become a megaphone for those with a message. Think through your subject. Study the way others are speaking on the subject, then get on the internet for the purpose of stating your message clearly, concisely, and convincingly.
In short, prioritize your purpose before opening your internet browser. Are you opening for resources, to improve relationships, or to write your message? Open the internet with purpose.
Finally, personalize your internet experience. Don’t attempt to duplicate the internet experience of others. There are enjoyable and edifying adventures on the internet. Let your online adventure reflect your individual personality.
For example, I have recently switched to Google Chrome (which I love). It automatically opens 4 pages for me: a church page, a blog page, a politics page, and a sports page. I check these four pages, then I leave the internet spider’s web. Typically, I check email and Facebook from my phone.
Like you (perhaps), I struggle to keep the internet as an instrument instead of becoming its addict. It’s good for us to think about the best ways to employ the internet so that it serves our needs instead of making us its slaves. What are some strategies you employ? Hopefully, this three-step strategy will help.