7 read-a-long (chapter 4: media)

Before I take up one more line of text, I just want to say a big ol’ THANK YOU to each one of you who has faithfully (or semi-faithfully) commented/blogged during the read-along. I know it’s not easy to stick with when there are a zillion things yanking for your attention.

Believe me, I know. Family issues. Racial reconciliation and justice stuff. Self-employment taxes (the bane of my existence right now). Yeah. Anyway.

So, thank you. You rock. And those of you who meant to be following along more closely but haven’t, no worries. I get it. Feel free to hop in as you can.

So, we might as well just get this out on the table: I love the internet. I just wrote a whole e-book about its awesomeness (would love to tell you when it will release, but my web guy has a full plate at the moment). I’ve been blessed by the internet in a zillion more ways in the past few years than I could even begin to tell you.

I don’t really plan to give it up. Not for Lent, not for this week, not for ever. Besides, I don’t reeeeally have a problem with it. Seriously. Out of the 24 media apparatus(es?) Jen listed, we only have 8. Hooray for us!

Oh, and 3 iPod Touches and 4 Kindles. Oops. Does it help that our Kindles were f-r-e-e? No? Okay then.

I don’t even watch TV or movies (except maybe the occasional Netflix documentary), so that part’s easy to “give up” (I’m pretty sure that books should count as media though, because that’s where you’re gonna nail me.).

I’m not even one of those people whose smart phone is attached to her hand. I can actually go to your house and have a 3-hour conversation with you without looking at my phone (even if you can’t). And I know about 20 of you who think I’m talking to YOU right now, but I’m not. My smart phone addict friends outnumber the non-addicts about 32 to 1.


I do love my computer. Actually, I love Gabe’s more, but when his isn’t available, I love mine. I get on it about 436 times a day. Last week, my friend Amber was here for 3 days, and I spent sooo much less time on the computer. “What are we going to do when Amber leaves?” Ava asked. “What do you mean?” I said. “What did we do before she came?”

“You were on the computer allllllllllll day long.”


I do spend time with God each morning before I turn my computer on. I journal and read my Bible and the day’s reading from Common Prayer and Jesus Calling (a gift from Amber). I pray for people and ask God for wisdom for my day.

But at least 50% of the time, I start to get that little itch to get online well before God’s done talking to me. I think it’s super-duper easy to put the internet ahead of God and say we just don’t “have time” to spend with him.

Not. True.

And I know this post sounds all jumpy and not very meaty, but I’m just out of steam for the day. Three little questions, and I’m gonna shut her down and go to bed.

Up for Discussion:

1. Jen says she doesn’t want her kids to be more comfortable interacting with a computer screen than a human being. If you have kids, is this a concern for you? What kinds of boundaries have you put in place to keep it from happening? (if you don’t have kids, you can answer it for yourself.)

2. This isn’t just media-related, but Jen talks about not even recognizing the person she used to be. For most of her life, she was chasing meaningless stuff instead of justice and mercy. I can so relate, and it’s so easy to beat myself up for all my wasted years. But she reminds us that, “self-hatred is not appropriate when God reveals a new angle.” How do you adjust to new truths God teaches you, learning from your past mistakes without wallowing in them?

3. “I discovered others didn’t need me to be as wired as I thought. Most of my media involvement is simply about me (blah).” GUILTY. Do you, like me, fall into the yucky trap of making the internet all about you, you, you, instead of others? How can we fix this?

BONUS: If you hate all these questions, ask and answer one of your own. Or tell me what your biggest struggle with media is. Or anything else that’s on your mind.

Thanks for all your wonderful insights and opinions. I’m loving this dialogue and the peek inside your brains! Hope your day is filled with sunshine and kittens!

36 thoughts on “7 read-a-long (chapter 4: media)

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » taking a breather

  2. Tonia

    Let me say that I definitely have a lot to cut out in my media life, but I’d like to share so far how things have gone with what I don’t have: 1) Facebook. I was on it pretty much all the time like the majority of people, and I just got so sick of all the blah, blah, fake, blah, super-mom, blah, blah, crap that I was wasting my time reading. And really, it was hard for the first year or so to not be on, but now I’m so freakin’ thankful that I’m no longer letting it suck away any more of my time.

    We get rid of cable every few years and that’s always great, but we still have netflix, so it’s not like that’s any better.

    I use a home phone still, and a pre-paid phone for those must need moments (which are pretty minimal). The good thing about not having a cell plan and a facebook account is that people are forced to make an effort to contact me in a more personal way (and vice versa). I may not have as many friends, but they are super awesome good friends, and that’s more important to me.

    Where I struggle….letting my kids watch the tube for probably about 2 hrs. a day usually. I’m guilty. It’s just too easy for me to turn on a show when I’m busy trying to cook or clean or get stuff ready to go somewhere. They get in the zone and the house could fall down around them.

    My other struggle is with Pinterest. I don’t think I spend great lengths of time on there anymore, BUT I do take Pinterest breaks like smokers take smoke breaks. And, it is MOST DEFINITELY taking time away from God and my relationship with him. Not to mention, my kiddos and fun play time with him.

    I really think I’m in need of some Internet reduction in my life. Like I should be sleeping right now, but instead I’m looking like a zombie trying to catch up on e-mails and this read-a-long…..

  3. Sarah Farish

    I’m a day late to the party…mainly because so much in this month resonated with me that I couldn’t decide what in the world to write about, to say, to …….I was just overwhelmed by the nuggets of wisdom. Finally, I realized that the message was simply – Less Sarah, More God. Free up time for God. Quit grasping everything so tightly that you can’t let go when God says, “this isn’t My plan for you.”

  4. brooke

    now that the discussion is over, i have plenty to say on this matter 😛 finally did a blog, although i’m not sure i did the chapter justice.

    can i just say how much i love traveling to places with no internet/cell service on vacation? since jay’s business is tied to his phone & computer, he finds himself working while we’re on vacation. on the one hand, is a vacation worth a lost commission? (one dude he had to refer to someone else has since bought multiple cabins – every time he buys Jay asks me if our California vacation was worth it). on the other – what good is life if you’ve always got a phone stuck to your ear and can’t go a day without thinking about comps, home inspections, and multiple offer situations????

  5. Pingback: 7: Media - Living Like No One Else | Living the Life of a Frugal Trophy Wife

  6. Lori

    And Marla…. Jesus Calling rocks! It was gifted to me at Christmas and is the devotional I’m addicted to this year. Wow! Very poignant.

  7. Andrea

    I wrote post 10 (7–no, not media!) and am sad to say that while it is plenty long, I could have written several more posts on all the ways I have changed how I interact with media over the last few years and am still at the level I am now. Unsubscribing to blogs and online newspapers that no longer serve me and my time well. Cutting off my Netflix instant stream because I’m already too tempted to plop down to catch up on shows I enjoy and my Hulu queue without needing a gazillion documentaries at my disposal tempting me to learn how to make nuts and bolts with my bare hands or how former Presidents were related to General Custer. I love learning and knowing things. I love consuming this stuff. I love reading blogs of friends, craft blogs, interesting news stories, random tweets, status updates of everyone and their brother, blogs of people I do not know who are just interesting and real and have stories to tell. If I filled my reader with even just the last of those, I would never get a single other thing done. I unsubscribe to them all of the time though. And since I am super open to basically trying everything in the world (food, travel, types of books or movies or tv shows, etc) then my standards are a lot lower than most people’s. This means I have no problem watching most stuff. I would not allow myself to get a DVR because I know how quickly I could fill up scheduled recordings based on “shows I find interesting”…they’re practically ALL interesting to me. So while I have limited and disciplined myself in some ways, I have a long way to go in others. I also probably need to raise my standards. I will stop here, but yes, good chapter this week. Hard, but good. I laughed so hard when I realized tonight how poorly I was doing. It is kind of harshly amusing when you take the plank out of your eye.

  8. Jonna Watson

    I’m one of those people who meant to follow this more closely, but I forgot that working full-time with a newborn is not really conducive to being part of a book club! I’ve re-read some of the chapters and have been a creeper by not commenting, but I have a free second so here are my thoughts!

    I’m addicted to my smart phone. I even read my Bible from my smartphone while I nurse because it’s basically the only chunk of time that’s quiet…plus it only requires one hand. But if I’m really honest, most of my time on my Iphone is spent doing reeeally spiritual things like Facebook, draw something app, emailing, or reading blogs. I think it can be easy for me to somehow care more about what my online self is perceived than how I’m actually treating my family in real life. Yikes.

  9. Lori

    One major guilty charge for me….. Checking my smartphone while at the playground. Yep. I have been one of those parents. But sometimes those are my peaceful moments too when I get to read a blog, look something up or read a book.

    What I really really really try to do whenever one of my kids cries “mommy” is to stop what I am doing and look them directly in the eyes. Since I work out of the home during the day, this is one really direct and connecting thing I learned to do to just soak in their littleness.

    So this chapter resonated with me in a million ways and my blog post is correspondingly all over the map. So many good thoughts!

  10. Leslie

    We didn’t have high-speed internet when the kids were home, so it wasn’t a big “family” issue. (As in “competing for human interaction.”) And I had an ironclad embargo on gaming systems because I knew my son’s personality too well and he would’ve fallen into the void never to emerge.

    And television isn’t a huge thing for me now, but years ago, when I was semi-addicted to Grey’s Anatomy (in the early years) my son was trying to talk to me and I kept shoo-ing and shushing him (this was pre-dvr — something else we got after the kids left the nest). In a VERY dramatic voice, my son proclaimed: “That TV is your ALTAR!!!” It kind of got my attention.

    As an empty-nester, I do spend a lot of time on blogs, Facebook, etc., and I see so many positive things about that kind of interaction and community – as well as some of the pitfalls.

    What got me most about this chapter was Jen’s conversation with her younger self. At 50, I’m beginning to know how little I know and her grace-filled advice against self-loathing on the road to maturity was so good. Thanks for that. I don’t want to miss the interior reconstruction God wants to do NOW because I’m kicking myself that it didn’t happen THEN.

  11. brooke

    don’t mind me – i’m just blog fasting. 😉

    j/k – i’m just a bit overwhelmed from being gone these past 2 weekends and a big one for me coming up. i want to blog this. i will blog this. i need to make a schedule.

  12. Kelly S

    The internet/computer is my biggest issue when it comes to media. I spend WAY more time than I’d like to on blogs, facebook, email, yahoo news, netflix, etc.

    I think there are lots of great things about the internet, and am thankful for it! But, what I dislike is that I don’t feel in control of it. Somehow, I rarely get the feeling when I’m reading a book, doing chores, playing a board game, talking to my husband, etc. that “time ran away from me,” but I often get that feeling when I spend time on the computer/internet. I feel like life slips away from me, and that’s not something I enjoy.

    Right now, I’m trying to work myself toward a new system where I’m only on the computer three days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday (haha, and I’m posting this on Tuesday!! You can see how well it’s working!) I want to try to limit myself to just checking email three days a week on those days, and then having a designated day a week where I check Google Reader/blogs (Mondays), facebook (Wednesdays), Pinterest (Fridays), plus a couple other things that I can’t remember right now. At the moment, the trouble is, even when I don’t check those at home, I get to work and have the freedom/flexible schedule to spend some time at work on those things. But, my job ends in 12 weeks so hopefully that will provide some more accountability – at home I can just put my laptop in a cabinet and not use it all day! 🙂 We’re expecting our daughter then, and I KNOW I don’t want to “waste” her newborn time with time on the computer/internet.

    Neither my husband or I have smart phones, nor do we have cable (but do watch netflix/hulu), plus our wireless router has a glitch where only one of our computers can be online at a time… while I sometimes wish we had tons of money so we could rationalize spending money on those things, I’m also thankful that I think they keep our media consumption from being sky-high. 🙂

    1. brooke

      i thought i was the last person on the planet without a smart phone! glad to know there are others out there. i want one, but i just can’t justify the cost. (plus hubby has one and i steal his frequently.

      also with ya on the cable thing (which wouldn’t be doable without netflix/hulu)

      1. Sharon

        I don’t have a smartphone either. And, I am hoping I never get internet access on my cell phone. I’m already online too much as it is, having access on my phone would be a disaster.

    2. Sharon

      That is such a good point how we don’t feel like time got away from us when we do other things, but when we are online, man, I am always shocked at how what I intended to take a few minutes took wayyy longer because I kept finding just one more thing to do online….

    3. Marla Taviano

      I would LOVE to hear how your internet schedule works for you. I’ve often thought about doing something similar. I stink at structure though, so not sure how it would work.

      EXCITED about your baby. Only 12 more weeks!!

  13. Teresa Henry

    2. This isn’t just media-related, but Jen talks about not even recognizing the person she used to be. For most of her life, she was chasing meaningless stuff instead of justice and mercy. I can so relate, and it’s so easy to beat myself up for all my wasted years. But she reminds us that, “self-hatred is not appropriate when God reveals a new angle.” How do you adjust to new truths God teaches you, learning from your past mistakes without wallowing in them?

    I definately relate to this statement. I spent many days laying awake at night beating myself up over the past…over the mistakes I made…over the things I didn’t teach my kids…the boundaries I didn’t set…the things I didn’t see but were right there in front of me…the choices I made. I could go on and on. I did it this morning…but I have learned to stop before it goes too far and I remind myself of the truth…my friend always tells me when I start off on “why did I do this or I am so mad that I wasted all of this time”…she asks me “Is God’s forgiveness not good enough for you? Are you saying that God’s mercy that is new every day is not enough?” Ouch…I went through a lot of healing over the last 5 years for some heavy stuff. While in the process one of the scriptures that I memorized right away was Philippians 4:8-9 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, andadmirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practic e all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from and and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” There is so much packed in to this scripture. When ever my thoughts or my actions would indicate that I was going to a place of “self-hate” or wallowing…I would ask myself is this true? Is this honorable to God? Is this worthy of praise? And then I have to go to the good old “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28. I constantly look for what good God is using the past for now…that I can sit in my self pity or my regret or I can look for and seek the good that God is going to use my past for. And then I see it…and I anticipate it daily…knowing that everything in the Bible is true and meant for me (which I had a hard time grasping for so long…that it could be meant for me who did so many “bad” things and made so many mistakes) and I get to live out the grace that God has for each of us. And that this is a daily surrender the Philippians 4:8 and remembering Romans 8:28 and every other scripture that tells me that I am forgiven. And I have to step out in faith and boldness anc claim these truths every day. It doesn’t matter where you have been. I have been to the pit…I can list out many events and circumstances and choices…that began to take me out…that wiped me out…but God…but God…he is enough and that is the only way that I can go forward every day and allow Him to “cause everything to work together for the good”. Sorry so long…Blessings!!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Amen, girl! Our God is a God of redemption–turning our sin into something beautiful is his specialty! So glad he’s helping you recognize and claim the forgiveness that’s yours!

  14. Valerie Henry

    Ohmygoodness. Questions Number Three. Guilty as charged.

    I have to check myself constantly when I’m on the ‘net, whether in responding to blog posts, e-mailing faraway friends, or updating my FB status. What? You mean it’s not all about me? People aren’t sitting at their monitors, holding their breath to find out what I think or what I’m doing???

    If I want to do everything for the glory of God, I have to stop making such a big public deal of myself and my little first-world problems!

  15. Angie Taviano

    Hi:) I’m a couple chapters behind but was reading thru this and Jen’s comment on feeling more comfortable with people than computers stuck out to me. That is so important! Computers, electronics, phones, anything with the web or can turn on by battery power and has a picture or digital is excitement in this house:)
    But personally I find that some of the greatest moments I’ve had is spending time with friends, getting together for coffee, having lunch, sitting around talking to friends, love it! One on one conversations/group conversations, laughter:) I don’t want that taken for granted because an iPhone won over real relationships. We can txt and keep in contact with people throughout the day, but without hearing the voice and feeling behind the txt, sometimes things are misunderstood or not felt the way it should’ve been. I’m as guilty as anyone with my phone. I can do without a computer, but I love having my iPhone. If I compare with depravity of others, and wifi signals I pay for, I feel wasteful. Tug and I both have a data plan on our phone, AND pay for Internet for the house. Seems like such a waste:/ With access to signals at home and free wifi normally anywhere we go outside of home, I don’t want that convenience interfering with those rich conversations of friends. Although, I have made connections that I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for Facebook/txt.
    I try and stop what I’m doing on my phone for my kids but it’s not always successful. Sometimes phone calls, txt, checking emails and the responses in between have
    outweighed my kids. It’s so easy to do when everything I’ve ever needed to check is right in front of me.
    it has its good points and bad, but I pray I’m wise in how I choose to respond and where and who I am pouring in my quality time. Thanks for that, Marla!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I think you’re so right on about it having good points and bad. My life has been so enriched by the internet. For one thing, I can keep up-to-date with (and pray for) family members who don’t live close. We just need wisdom and the courage to make the right choices–people first.

      So glad you joined us, Ang! Love you!

  16. Jennifer

    When we were without cable/internet, we spent a lot of time playing games together as a family, reading books together, and just spending time together. It’s changed a lot since then, not because our kids are wanting to watch television all the time but because it’s easier to just turn it on and lose ourselves in it. (And I’m guilty of losing myself in my Kindle. Honestly, I struggle way more with that than with the internet or cable either one.) I want to set a better example for the girls, and I don’t want to miss out on these years.

    And with that, I’m getting off the computer for the day. 🙂

  17. Bethany Peters

    Some of my struggles with the internet:
    1-Shooing away and ignoring my children because I’m reading blogs, looking up things on the internet, checking Facebook, etc.
    2–Getting wrapped up in controversial blog topics–especially the comments sections. I will spend an entire day reading and writing up long comments, only to delete them because I don’t want to get in long drawn-out arguments over the internet and spend all day in front of my screen
    3–When my relationships with those close to me (physically) are ignored and replaced with relationships online. God placed me in this town for a reason. I like connecting with family and people I will see physically occasionally, but I have ministries here in WM (specifically neighbors, fellow moms, and youth group) that I don’t want to ignore

    Question #3: I loved the part where Jen’s friends were upset about wasting good Facebook one liner statuses and one of them whined, “What’s the point of living if I can’t write about it on Facebook?” or something like that. So true! I don’t want to do things just so I can tell others about it. That’s why so many times I am tempted to write about something on Facebook, but instead will write about it in my prayer journal.

    I also let Isabelle watch way too much TV. I want to get better at only allowing a limited amount of shows at limited times. Same for my computer time. I think I’ll come up with a game plan tomorrow. Right now I’m going back to bed.

    1. Sharon


      I can so relate of shooing my kiddo away when I’m reading something “really important” online. And lol. I’ve started to type comments and then finally just deleted it after rewriting it a million times.

      “God placed me in this town for a reason.” I think that line was written just for me! I moved to my current town when I got married 3 years ago. I have lots of acquaintances from church, but don’t have close unsaved friends here like I did in my hometown. Thanks to my toddler we know most of the cashiers at the grocery stores we frequent and I’ve thought of inviting a couple of them to our Easter service. But, so far I’ve been too chicken! Thank you for reminding me that I’m in this city for a reason!

    2. Marla Taviano

      I can relate to all three of your struggles. One thing I’m really thankful for is that a big chunk of my online friends are also real-life friends. I just got to see 2 of them today. I like being able to do life with them in 2 places–online and face-to-face.

      Speaking of face-to-face, I miss you.

  18. Ruth

    My biggest concern (kinda answering #1) is being an example to my kids. I’m pretty hooked on my iPhone & I know I’m not modeling it very well for them. I feel SO much better on the days I fast from it or simply put it away & focus more on my kids. My oldest, who is a 5.5 yr old boy, could easily get hooked on media. I’ve had to really limit his time on my iPad (which I won, btw, so it was free too, but still counts – lol), on the tv/movies, and he also asks to watch movies on my computer (Netflix). The newest thing is he got a camera for Christmas and I didn’t realize it has 2 video games on it. As simple as they are, he is addicted to those. I am SO glad we don’t have a game system. I don’t know what I’d do. Even my 2 yr old asks to play on the iPad each day. So yeah. I try to recognize when a break is needed & I put limitations on it for sure. I am working on being even more careful about it now that I am not sick 24/7 with this pregnancy. It was an easy distraction since I was laying in bed all day. Now there is no excuse. So that’s my challenge for myself. 1. Staying off my phone during the day unless necessary or during nap, etc and 2. Keeping their media use to a bare minimum – I gotta be creative & more involved and not as lazy. But when I am, it is so worth it!

      1. Ruth

        You have the mama excuse. All mamas need a break. The tv is on right now, actually. Lol. Gotta go get dinner started & laundry switched without them hurting each other. 🙂

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