Alcohol, sex, opioid, gambling addictions have been around for centuries but the latest and possibly more dangerous addiction is the one we have to screens. These screens are not only a portal to other cravings but also an obsession in themselves.
Tearing ourselves away from the time consuming, eye wearying, mind-reductive lifestyle with screens dominating our personal time will require a sizeable and deliberate effort on our part.
Today, almost everything we do shackles us to the screens.
- Communication (official and personal) – mobile / laptop
- Reading – Kindle
- Shopping – mobile screen
- Binge watching, entertainment, news, gaming, information, research – mobile / TV / Ipad
- Social media (active or passive modes) – mobile
It leaves the truly experiential outside the realm of the screens. So what can we do that gives us some respite from the glowing devices that surround and drown us?
To begin with, let’s put that device aside and look at the alternatives that lie before us.
- Traveling – When you’re on the move, trekking, hiking, cycling, driving, walking is when you’re forced to be in the moment and take in what the world around us has to offer.
- Watching sunsets and sunrises – What better treat for the senses?
- Physical activities that are completely immersive and sensory like playing a sport, exercising, cooking, painting, dancing, singing, theatre, pottery, arts and crafts, renovating, gardening, pets. There is enough and more if we make a conscious choice to engage with our immediate environment, resources and people.
- Reading books – Not only does it give you a window into new worlds, situations and characters, it acts as a catalyst for the imagination.
- Physical gatherings – Sitting physically across people and communicating or collaborating with them is far more gratifying, personal and rewarding. We have all seen how intimacy is being eroded and increasingly avoided by the new generation.
Clearly, there is no dearth of things we can do and yet, speaking for myself, I have just spent an hour putting this blog together on a screen! I’ll consider meditating for a bit to give my eyes some rest and then struggle to make a choice between watching the next episode of ‘Dopesick’ on Netflix or prepare some mutton broth. Oh, the irony! These conflicts are simple, intense and real but the more mindful I am about them, the more I realise the need for loosening the hold ‘screens’ have over me.
Stepping away, even for short periods, allows us to become more available to ourselves and acknowledge our thoughts and dreams. A space where we can breathe in the quiet. Eventually, it is all about ensuring balance in our lives where we strive to enjoy the best of both worlds, on screen and away from it.