Tech Fasting

by Hannah Coggins
Posted on 1st April 2014

We picked up that Hannah Coggins, mission teacher in Madagascar, undertook a technology fast when she first arrived on the field. We were keen to find out what this involved, the reasons behind it and the benefits realised.

Hannah writes "Yes, we did a 3 month tech fast, although here we are pretty limited so have been able to keep it up to some extent.

It basically meant checking email once a week, no social networking or Internet surfing. We didn't really use our phones other than speaking to family once a week. We limited our use of music and Kindles too (although for Spiritual things we still used them). We also didn't watch movies.

focus on adjusting and not comparing everything with home

It was a very good idea because you don't realise how routine it is to check Facebook, email etc. It also stops you thinking about what is going on at home and helps to focus on things here. I reconnected to Facebook via my phone recently but having a year off was really helpful. It is useful now for keeping in touch with people but I think waiting until I was settled here helped me to focus on adjusting and not comparing everything with home.

No movies was probably the hardest but it forced me to read more and focus on language. Actually, even a movie can make culture shock worse if you feel like life at home was better in some way because they often glamorise Western culture, I realised that recently! They can
also make you feel the opposite, angry at Western values which is equally unhelpful as you then feel like you don't belong anywhere! I am sure not everyone would find this but it is amazing how subtle messages get transmitted through media.

People in our context do have phones and many have TVs so in some ways it is strange to them that we limit these things but I think it sets an example of what our priorities are, especially as much of the TV they watch is violent or explicit. People come to our house all the time so it is difficult to hide your possessions. Therefore not having a computer out all the time and spending most of the daytime tech-free is also another way to live simply, which is one of our goals as a team."

Hannah Coggins works with Africa Inland Mission (AIM). She teaches missionary kids on a team reaching an unreached people group in a remote part of Africa.