I’m not really a Lent kinda gal. (It may have something to do with me being Jewish.) But for the past few years, I’ve felt increasingly Lent-aware, because of the sheer number of people who now seem to give up Facebook for Lent (but then tweet about it), email for Lent (but then blog about it) or even the entire Internet for Lent (but then double-up on their online postings the moment they’ve bitten the ears off a chocolate bunny.)

If you’re giving up the Internet (or some part of it) for Lent because you think it will be good for you to unplug, I hope you’ll read the piece I wrote for The Atlantic last week on smarter alternatives to unplugging.

If you’re giving up the Internet for Lent because you think it will suck to unplug, and the suffering is the point (I am getting the general gist of Lent correct here, aren’t I?) then go for it: suffer to your heart’s delight! But just please please don’t make the rest of us happily plugged-in, Lent-free folks suffer with you. Some guidelines for your Lenten digital fast:

  1. Don’t tweet, blog, Facebook, YouTube or otherwise chronicle how offline you are. That is totally cheating.
  2. Keep all your other screen time constant. If you replace your five daily hours of World of Warcraft with five hours watching action movies, you are missing out on the opportunity to actually learn something from this experience.
  3. Your profound revelations about the true nature of digital life, which are only apparent to you now that you are spending the hour between 6-7 a.m. offline every day for forty entire days OMG!!! are not going to impress those of us who still remember the value of an always-on iPhone. We don’t want to hear about your new digital enlightenment over coffee or while we are in line with you at the ATM.
  4. When you come back online after 40 days, please do not forward us the adorable photo of the cat that got stuck in the dryer with a teddy bear, LOL! We all saw that picture on about nine different people’s Facebook walls in the eternity that you went offline.
  5. Remember: just because you’re giving it up for 40 days doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful part of your life for the other 325.