Screen Time

I haven’t had a tv in my home for 6 years. I used to say it sheepishly or pretend like I knew what people were talking about when they referenced things on tv. Then I would say it proudly that I didn’t have a tv – I didn’t have a box with a screen that played mindless entertainment and advertisements to distract me for hours. In the last year or two, I realized I was wrong – my home does have that box, but it is in the form of 2 iPhones, an iPad, and 3 laptop computers.

Have you ever thought about how many hours you spend looking at a screen – either a tv, computer, or phone? Some days, at the end of the night, I confess, I am certain that it’s more than or close to 12 hours.  Work has been crazy, so I’ll spend 10 hours at my desk. If I take the bus/train, I look at my phone while waiting and riding. Then when I get home, my “reward” or wind down time is spacing out on my phone – checking Facebook or Instagram or the weather or email or the news. If I have any energy left in me, I do things from my to do list, which frequently involve using my computer. My phone sleeps next to my bed – the last thing I do before sleeping is look at it, then when I wake up in the morning, I pull it into bed and go back to checking through all those same websites in case I missed anything while sleeping and to prepare for the day.

There have been numerous interesting articles about our  society’s addiction to Facebook and other social media. I can’t say it as well as they can, but I can feel it – the impulse to just “check in”. Standing on the train platform, I can’t help but pull out my phone to browse through Facebook. Waiting to meet someone, I stare at my phone to keep myself busy.  It’s a need to see what other people are doing, a need to feel busy, and seeking approval (how many likes or comments can you get?).

I can’t remember enough to find the article, but I also read an article about how Facebook can make us feel sad and/or inadequate – everyone else’s life looks so awesome because we only post the good stuff. She has a great job. They are on a great adventure. His marriage is perfect. Life is all roses.  Or if we post the lousy stuff, it’s seen as a cry for attention. Maybe we need to get off-line all together?

Does anyone else feel this push? What do you do about it? I think just being more conscious of it helps. My phone is going to sleep in the living room and not go in the bedroom. I have deleted the Facebook app and will erase my saved password from Safari. I will not use looking at my phone as a reward or wind-down when I get home – I will read a book or stretch or go for a walk. I’d like to try to make Sunday’s as much as a screen-free day as possible. One thing I might do is turn my phone off more often so that I don’t just absent-mindedly pick it up and start flipping through it. If it’s off, I have to consciously turn it on and wait for it.

I don’t know the answer to this 21st problem, but I feel it. And we all see it. Just look around.

P.S. Don’t think that I don’t see the irony of the amount of time I spent looking at a screen to write this, as well as seeing what feedback comes in…

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