Reflections on a Process: What going into a long-term media fast is like, in retrospect.

I was a frog in boiling water.

I didn’t realize it at the time, as no frog gradually heated does, but before my mission I was immersed in a rolling boil of media. Then, I was dropped into the icy cold media-free waters of the Missionary Training Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Provo, Utah.

It was a definite shock to my system. But, going over my notes and journals over the past week made me realize something: my detox was as gradual and unnoticeable as the water from the proverbial amphibian’s tale. Even though I had no access to television, radio, or Internet, it still took a while for everything to leave my system—for my mind to adjust to my new life.

I found a journal entry from one of my first nights in Texas. I was having some problems with insomnia—sleeping problems are pretty common among missionaries, especially new ones. I explain realizing that I had seen “Dirty Dancing” enough times that I could replay the entire movie in my head. (Don’t laugh. That movie has a special place in my heart.) But, I understood that the rules about television and movies were more about what we, as missionaries, had our minds on, and I decided to think about something else instead. Throughout my mission, I found that the Old Testament was a much better cure for insomnia than any TV show.

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[My first missionary apartment. There are some chairs, a table, beds in the bedroom, but no TV. The cell phone on the table belongs to the Church and is for official use only. All reading material is authorized by the Church. I believe Sister Wesley’s studying face is authorized by the Church, too.]

I reached a point where I didn’t even think about secular entertainment. It was great for the mission, but it also meant that by the time I came home, I was no longer suited for a “regular” media environment.

I forgot about some of the anxieties I had about that right before coming home. In one journal entry, I go into detail about a nightmare I had about using the Internet.

I’m finding I have more material than I realized.

One of the things I’ve been doing is elaborating on the tidbits I find in my notebooks and journals. I’ve got a pretty good little collection of anecdotes.

I’ve also e-mailed other missionaries I worked with asking them how the experience was for them. I’m excited to see their responses.

I expect that many of them, like me, have changed their media diet since being home, compared to how it was before they left. For me, the experience has prompted me to practice a little bit more moderation—because bath water is best not too hot and not too cold.

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