When Online Distractions Steal Our Joy

Last year, I slowly worked my way through a book called The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. Penned by Canadian writer Christina Crook, the book grew out of the lessons she learned during a 31-day “fast” from smartphone data, email and the Internet.

It’s a fascinating—and often sobering—look at the way technology has consumed our lives, affected our brains and changed the way we relate to people. At the same time, it provides a hopeful way forward for those of us who long to be fully present in our lives but still struggle with distractions that suck our time and steal our joy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this coming holiday season to pass by in a blur, and especially not because I’m overly concerned about maintaining some sort of online presence in the midst of all the festivities. Even now, as I think through how I can keep that from happening, the following quotes from The Joy of Missing Out are providing motivation and perspective.

We’ll start off with a thought about the importance of the pause button:

“We are all publishers on the Internet. We think our innermost thoughts are profound, important and shareable. And, often, they are. But what they are not, is unique. If the Internet has anything to teach us, it’s probably this: everyone’s a star and everyone’s a critic, and we might all do well to take pause before posting.

What getting offline does for us:

“Stepping offline reminds us that we are small. The online world, and indeed the world at large, keeps on without us. Our likes, our comments and tweets are not missed. The world—it keeps on turning.”

The best kind of people:

“Present people, people who look you straight in the eye, are a rare and wonderful breed.”

What real life gives us:

“Proximity paints the real picture. Even if we air our foibles and grievances—our metaphorical laundry—online, only those closest to us are privy to our day-in, day-out attitudes and experiences. Real life paints the whole picture; online we see only the strokes.

The Internet as a tool:

“We don’t use a screwdriver to butter toast. We don’t use a knife to write a love letter. Use the Internet like any tool. Take it out for a specific purpose and then put it away.”

Finally, the truth about choices:

“Every choice is a renunciation. The moment that changes everything is the moment we wake up to the truth that we have to give up something to accomplish our goal. We must renounce to gain.

Those last five words, especially, are really simmering in my heart and mind these days. They’re leading to something, although I’m not quite sure what just yet.

So how about you? Do any of these quotes resonate with you in a particular way? And how do you find balance in this wired world of ours, especially during the the holiday season?


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this coming holiday season to pass by in a blur. Click To Tweet

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith#TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart and Grace & Truth.

16 Responses to When Online Distractions Steal Our Joy

  1. Amanda says:

    Wow. This echoes some of my own thoughts and struggles with balance online. I manage a number of things through social media and web sites for folks, so it can be difficult to pull the plug even for a bit. Can’t even deactivate Facebook because I also have a group there that I manage. It’s surely not easy.

    Nonetheless, I definitely have to add this book to my reading list. I am looking forward to finding way to use the Internet for what it is useful for (like sharing blogs as we do!) and then turning my eyes and heart toward other things most of the time. Thank you for this post!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      The author of the book uses the internet a lot in her work too, Amanda, so I’m guessing you might find some good suggestions in it for balancing everything. I’m so glad you stopped by last week, and I hope you have a beautiful holiday season! 🙂

  2. SUSAN SHIPE says:

    Lois, that book intrigues me. I work from home and the computer – not sure I could shut it down but it certainly fascinates me. A bible teacher said, “We were never as important as we think ourselves now, before the Internet and cell phones.” It’s true, isn’t it? Txogiving blessings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That’s a great quote, Susan. The Joy of Missing Out includes a series of typed notes the author wrote while she was on her Internet fast. It was really interesting to read them. I love the ease of word processing, but I wonder how the tone of the world would change if everyone had to hand-write or type things out before they posted them online? 🙂

  3. Dear Lois, thank you for this powerful reminder about tending to tangible relationships. I am frequently buffeted by the vagaries of social media, and the push to strengthen platform. Jesus, or even his apostles, don’t seem to have been concerned about platform, and yet, that small band has been said to have turned the world upside.

    Prayers and blessings for a happy, Thanksgiving, Sweet Friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I think we could have a nice long conversation about all of this, Alice. Wonderful point about Jesus and His influence … that helps keep things in perspective in the midst of the constant flood of advice about how to grow an audience and build a platform. And thank you for introducing me to a new word. Vagary: “An unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone’s behavior.” VERY fitting around here with a 16-year-old daughter and one who is almost 13!!! I need to share this word with Randy. 🙂 Hugs, friend!

  4. Awww, Lois. So much good stuff in here. I’m becoming better about stepping away from online stuff to be more present with family and friends. It’s crucial for relationship, and for our own well-being to be “all in” and connecting with others.

    The quote that resonated. most was: “Every choice is a renunciation. The moment that changes everything is the moment we wake up to the truth that we have to give up something to accomplish our goal. We must renounce to gain.”

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That’s the quote that is really churning things up in my mind too, Jeanne. I’ve even started quoting it around the house (which, of course, the younger set around here really appreciates). Many blessings to you and yours this holiday season, my friend!

  5. Trudy says:

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Lois. I like the idea of using the Internet as a tool. Sometimes my husband and I think back with nostalgia to those days when cell phones were nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong. I find it in some ways a blessing, like when I’m driving alone or to text our oh-so-busy kids and grandkids. And they know I’m not on Facebook, so they personally send me pics sometimes. But it’s hard when during visits, smartphones rob the attention of family and friends. It’s sad to see, even in our kids and grandkids. Some are good at keeping the phones in their pockets, but others seem to think a message or Facebook post takes priority over the conversation at hand. Conversations in person are dropped and others feel like they’re not important. Thanks for letting me ramble… I think that balance is important. 🙂 May we find it! Thanksgiving blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I am totally on the same page with you about all the electronic use, Trudy. In fact, I was talking to my dad the other day and he said something very similar to what you just wrote about people always checking their phones instead of engaging in conversations. It’s sad, isn’t it? People who are fully present are a joy to be around! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

  6. “We don’t use a screwdriver to butter toast. We don’t use a knife to write a love letter. Use the Internet like any tool. Take it out for a specific purpose and then put it away.” Wow. That quote is striking. Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Lois. Sounds like a wonderful book! I’ve been praying and making commitments for a less-distracted season too. This helps!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      It is a great book, Bethany … I think you might enjoy it. You have so much on your plate right now … I will pray that you will be able to focus on what’s necessary and still be able to enjoy the holiday season too! Hugs, friend!

  7. Being present in the real world with the people I love is far more valuable than anything online. But I still find myself checking, telling myself it’s just for a minute. I’m learning to turn it off and leave it in another room, so I keep my focus where it belongs.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m the same way about checking too much, Debbie. I have good intentions about implementing some serious boundaries … I just need to follow through with it! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

  8. Diana says:

    We tend to forget that the best presence is offline when we meet the people face to face. The online world will still exist even after the holidays, but perhaps the festivities will pass in by if we don’t stop and make that choice

    Visiting you from #Ra Ra


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