A few years ago, my family and I went on a trip to Colorado Springs. This vacation was very memorable because of all the quality time my parents, sister and I got to spend together. We went hiking, talked out on the porch over looking the mountains, and sang along to Alanis Morissette (at least my dad and I did, haha) on the scenic drives through town. One of the nights we were there, all of us went to Old Chicago for dinner.
Across from my family’s table was a couple on a date. After about 10 minutes my Dad lean’s over to whisper to my mom, sister and I “Is that not SUPER sad? They haven’t even looked at each other since we got here.” The couple had both been staring at their phones and texting the whole time, and that didn’t change the entire time we were there.
A Thief of Joy
To be honest, I am surprised I haven’t written about this before. In today’s world it is very rare to be without a screen for too long, if at all during the day. We use them for everything, from calling loved ones to just trolling the internet when we are bored.
We often don’t think about the need we have for our screens, but we sure do notice when they are off.
There is a real detriment to our habits, relationships, personalities and quality of life when we spend too much time with electronics. There was a study conducted showing that even if a phone was present in the room and no one was checking it, it still restricted a sense of intimacy and empathy during otherwise meaningful conversation. Screen fasting is a great way to detox from the harmful effects of using screens too often. We will talk about that a little more at the end of the article.
Why do we feel the compulsion to look at screens?
- Instant Gratification
Google has all the answers. It’s so easy to just pick up our cell phones and look anything we have a thought about, which is both a blessing and a curse. We can literally find anything we want within seconds. This “Instant Gratification” is something us human’s love. We aren’t patient, we don’t like to wait. So if something fulfills a pleasure immediately, often time’s that is our go to. Being able to search for anything within a very short time span gives our brain that satisfaction, and so we keep scrolling, and before we know it an hour has gone by.
- Mental Stimulation
Mental stimulation is another reason for the screen addiction. What can happen when we attribute screen time to normal day to day life is something called Sensory Overload. This means there is an abundance of stimuli, and it can cause damage, anxiety, isolation and sometimes depression. In the case of electronic sensory overload, your brain gets used to too much stimulation and therefor feels the need for it constantly, while still causing the above damage.
What are the negative impacts of a screen driven society?
- Taking others for granted
- Inability to be present
- Not paying attention to our surroundings
- Losing time
- Neglect and Isolation
There are a lot of risks that go along with being glued to a screen. When we absorb ourselves with the digital world, we suffer from most of all, not being present.
It is a very sad thing to realize you’ve been at a social function for an hour and not really interacted with anyone.
Time goes by SO much faster when we distract ourselves with technology. I did a sort of silent experiment on two separate afternoon’s with my husband. On the first afternoon, we both had our separate screens(my laptop and his phone), and our TV on all afternoon. The day seemed to fly by in a matter of minutes, and we both felt as if we didn’t really get to see each other. Because we didn’t. On the second afternoon, we had a no TV day and phones were not present. We made breakfast, talked, read together. It felt as if we had an entire day together even though we both worked that night.
After this experiment, its so hard to not feel like technology just zap’s your life away. It steals your minutes, erases potential memories and put’s you in a foggy haze. Phone’s belong at the bottom of a bag, purse or pocket. Not attached to our faces.
The benefits of Screen Fasting
What exactly does it mean to go on a screen fast? It is a break from technology. Going on a screen fast means no internet, no phone (unless of you have a flip phone and don’t text), and no TV. Anything that has a screen, go without it.
Screen Fasting can be extremely beneficial, because you start to realize how much you do not miss electronics. You can make this fast however long you need. I have gone a month without Facebook before and it was wonderful. Sometimes you just need a day, or maybe you do need an entire month. Though with how much a lot of our jobs depend on computers, that may be a bit hard. If that is the case, make it an “at home” thing, just fasting while you are at home.
I am not suggesting you turn your phone off all day(though that would benefit you greatly), but try to check it as little as physically possible. Set your phone to vibrate, but keep it at the bottom of your purse or in your pocket. No update is even close to important as the friend you are having coffee with, or the time spent with your family on a holiday or vacation.
Look around, go on a drive, explore, feel the sunshine, laugh with your siblings, make eye contact. Do the things and remember them. Don’t look at the screen, because it really is a trap.
As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
What to read next: Conquer the Fear of Communicating Feelings