Being online is more than about being there and sharing cat pictures on Facebook. I have found that what makes a difference is to be online intentionally and with a purpose. Sure we can all get sucked down the rabbit holes of information and cool stories only to immerge 30 minutes later wondering what we were looking for in the first place. If we are able to harness our time and our energy, however, we can be in certain places at certain times with intentionality and grace so that we are truly present.
I cannot tell you how to control your online time, but I will share what works for me.
- In the morning I scan email and Facebook to see what I need to flag for later.
- I then go to my “trusted” sites to check in on news, materials, and resources.
- As I work throughout the day, I take breaks to check in on my email, but try not to get bogged down there too much.
- When I notice that I delete newsletters or emails that come from a group or company more often than I read them, I unsubscribe completely.
- As I see prayer requests or people having a hard time on Facebook, I add them to my prayer list that I keep with my journal.
- When I see something really good that I think will benefit people with whom I do ministry, I share it with them there and then so that it doesn’t get lost.
- I check in on certain Facebook Groups when I know there is a pastoral issue at hand.
- I step away from my computer at scheduled times during the day to give my brain and body a rest. Stepping away also gives me perspective and allows me to come back renewed.
We live in a virtual world that is very real. The question to all of us online is how do we do it intentionally so that we are enabling and fostering connection and communication so that when we have face-to-face meetings they are even more meaningful and grounded.