Inspired by my students, I challenged myself and made some new discoveries.
When Bishop Adam Lepa (current senior bishop of the Archdiocese of Łódź, Poland) lectured on media pedagogy, he often used the term “personal mediasphere.”It means the media environment a person lives in and is surrounded by. It can be divided into four parts: iconosphere (the image environment), logosphere (the word environment), sonosphere (the sound environment), and finally, the galenosphere (the environment of silence).
The last one, even though statistically least popular, became the object of my interest. A few years later I had an opportunity to conduct media pedagogy classes with students. Wanting to be different and to show a creative approach to work, I gave my students homework. It consisted of finding galenosphere in their lives, contemplating it, and describing their experiences, remarks and thoughts.
The exercise turned out to be very effective. I felt that 100 percent of the group approached this task as a special mission, and, each in their own way, dealt with it superbly. People who were practicing Christians found silence during the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Mass. Others, often students with paying jobs, decided to break away from the chaos of the big city and get away into nature, by themselves.
Other students, approaching the task with a journalistic passion, looked for moments of silence recorded in the media, such as the prayer of John Paul II during one of his visits to Poland. The academic year came to an end and, inspired by my students, I gave myself an ambitious goal — a vacation from Facebook.
Taking the leap
To make sure I couldn’t get out of it too easily, I wrote about my decision in a women’s group I lead on Facebook. I asked the readers to call me out if they noticed any internet activity, which would mean that I had failed and started to use the account again. I asked my husband and family to do the same, and I deactivated my account for 40 days.
I also deleted the Facebook app from my phone, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at my friends’ photos and life events. I decided to use my free time actively, for my own development, or remote work during specific hours, with breaks and without using a computer.
Additionally, I promised myself not to watch TV and not to listen to the radio. I wanted a total detox from an excess of images and sounds. However, I didn’t allow myself a detox of logosphere, or the realm of words; on the contrary. I finally had time to read books, and I didn’t hesitate to use that time fully. The first two weeks were most difficult. It was hard for me to motivate myself to follow an ambitious plan for the day, which I would write in my calendar.
To recharge batteries and start the day well, I began attending the morning Mass. To my surprise, I met someone new at church—an elderly gentleman, a veteran of the Home Army, who would tell fantastic stories. This man, almost five times older than me, had so much energy and passion that it made me want to demand even more from myself.
Following the message “work and pray,” I tried to fulfill my duties with great conscientiousness, every moment of every day. I discovered how wonderful a regularly played sport could be. And when my fat began to turn into visible muscle, and I saw pride in my husband’s eyes, my wings grew twice as fast.
I became fascinated again with St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises. It turns out that I don’t need to do a Jesuit retreat to learn to live in silence and meditate. I managed to accomplish most of the things I intended.
I haven’t done everything, but those 40 days without Facebook, TV, and radio gave me the ability to notice things that are more important. I focused more on fantastic vacations, meditation, and reflections, instead of photos of FB friends, with whom I often don’t share any emotional bonds. Was it worth it? In short, yes. I highly recommend it!