There are so many ways to just waste time. At what point is it relaxation – which is valid – and at what point is it just lazy and a waste? We have so many things vying for our attention these days. Anyone with any social media accounts knows how easy it is to get lost scrolling and scrolling through. This can be meaningless and banal activity, which is often not even enough to stop us and get our attention and actually engage. There are Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, and don’t even get me started on TikTok! Then there are news apps like the NZ Herald and emails, and the list goes on.
How much time do we waste? Research tells us that it is a lot. One statistic I found is that Americans spend an average of five hours each day on their phones. I don’t see why we would be any different. To be fair, many people, including myself, use phones for a number of productive/necessary activities such as emails, banking and fitness/exercising apps. So not all the time I spend on my phone is wasted, but there is definitely a fair chunk that is. I’ve subscribed to a number of Catholic groups on Facebook to make sure that my feed has some faith-based content on a regular basis. The way the algorithms work, it seems like you have to like/interact with these to make sure they keep coming up on your feed. I try to actively stop scrolling if I see a Bible quote or a similar announcement. It served a wonderful purpose recently, because that was how I found out about the St Patrick’s Cathedral? 24-hour rosary online, which I joined!
I’m trying out a new app at the moment to help me focus on my faith. I’ve found fitness and exercise tracking apps useful to motivate me to increase the amount of exercise I do, so I figured it’s worth trying a faith-based app. The app I used to use is no longer available. I’m trying the Amen app. It has a 5-star rating from 22 users so far – it’s quite new! It asked me what my faith goals were when I signed up – and even that proved to be an interesting point to stop and reflect upon. You can get regular emails and so on, but I don’t want to further fill up my inbox so, for now, I will just try engaging with the app regularly. It has the Daily Mass Readings and a number of daily prayers to listen to, with simple pictures to aid in meditation. They have some meditations designed for late in the day, at bedtime. They also have some specific meditations for things like anxiety or stress.
Our phones and social media have become a source of addiction. Check how many times you pick up your device and your screen usage (they record this data, so you can easily find out) and it’s pretty horrifying – especially over lockdown. There is so, so, so many options for TV and movies now too, which can be equally time-wasting, depending on what you are watching. We do all need time out and relaxation time, so it’s a matter of keeping it under check and monitoring what you are watching and listening to. Is it uplifting? Does it cause you stress and anxiety?
We are so easily pulled away from God, away from Jesus. We can so easily become lukewarm in this modern environment. We have to fight to keep Jesus at the centre and as the focus. We have to keep turning back and refocusing ourselves. Sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it’s harder. In these uncertain times, we need to be extra careful about the temptations, and this isn’t helped when (in Auckland) we are now three months without Eucharist and confession. Please Lord, give us strength to keep you at the centre of all we do.
1 Chronicles 16:11; “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!”