I firmly believe screen-less or no screen time is a necessary concept for digital dwellers. Screen-less / No screen is very much like sabbatical practice where you don’t interact with technology as much, or to be more specific don’t interact with screens.
Let’s deconstruct this little bit.
Working with screens
I’m an internet worker which is my job to produce stuff for people to consume on their technological devices. It’s my job to think, create and bend the rules with computing and make technology smarter. Most of my day goes into research, write, plan, manage and do all of these on computer. Usually spend like 12-15 hours on screens.
There are so many occupations not centered around creating technology but using technology to create. By nature many jobs are very similar to mine, spending almost all the time behind screens while working.
Couch potato with screen
But there are a good chunk of humanity just “watching”. Probably majority of the people spending time on screens is just consuming. It’s a natural transition from non-interactive television era to screen time. Kevin Kelly has a great definition for this and he calls it “screening” not watching, not reading… We just scroll endlessly.
Too much screen time, too many screens to look at
Not just having A screen, we have screens everywhere. Phones, tablets, computers, tv screens for constant information for some jobs (like stock tickers, performance dashboards etc..) and finally wearables. We carry multiple screens with us all the fucking time…
Not a surprise everybody is ADD now
I’ve been doing reads on many different topics related with technology’s impact. Recently how screens affect little children since I have two little babies now, more curious on this topic these days.
What I see as a consistent pattern, mostly conclusions on these reads is screens are bad for certain period of childhood causing loss on attention span, making our brains more distracted. I understand the reasoning that our brain is designed to “see” stuff in graceful progression. Especially movements we expect from nature is not suddenly disappearing or suddenly appearing stuff. Sudden movements is “danger” signal for brain. We produce minimal stress hormones when stuff happens fast because naturally fast movements trigger us to “escape” from danger by it’s biological nature. The fast moving images and flashing visuals that makes brain to jump between things is essentially damaging. This sounds so familiar – think a random tv program 🙂
It’s growing number of kids, people have ADD (attention deficit disorder).
Keep it cool, keep it under control
Best way to cope with this is to have regular “stops” from screens. It’s just plain straightforward plan. Don’t look at screens, don’t use your gadgets for a while. To me once a week for a day is just perfect. Maybe once in every 6 months or once a year it can be weeklong stop. It’s not new concept guys! We call this just weekend and holidays 🙂
Cool it down a little…
Getting lazy with technology
Not interacting with screens or more broad with technology completely for a day is also about breaking the pattern of technology supported laziness where we lost the connection and need for retention of basic information like directions or shopping list.
When I first did no screen, without realizing, I got into a situation that I booked a yoga class the day before for Saturday and when the class time came, I realized I never knew the address of the studio I went twice. It was a little scary that I didn’t know this information, I managed to go out and try few different streets until I remember the correct street. Following week, I started to note the directions of the places I wanted to spend my day.
Getting creative with no screen time
A lot of good came out of no screen days:
- read much more,
- workout in many different ways, running, yoga, biking, hiking,
- farmers market, vintage shop, random exploration of my neighborhood,
- having less serious plans and schedule for Saturdays,
- catching up with friends more,
- writing, life planning
It’s been over a year now and it became part of my weekly routine.
I have few exceptions that I don’t practice no screen Saturdays, when I travel, when I have a deadline that shit really happened and it’s very important (I try to keep this 2-3 times a year max, otherwise there is always important stuff). I only interact screens very very briefly (not longer than a minute or two) to open music, I also keep “kindle” out of “screen” category because you can’t do much other than reading.