How Our Screens Divide Us

Life has gotten busy around here. Since joining the ConquerWorry.org team, my head has been non-stop buried in my computer. I spend a lot of time on social media anyway because of my day job, and now I’m spending even more time.

My typical day looks like this:

  1. Get up, take care of dogs, make breakfast.
  2. Eat breakfast while checking in with my email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest accounts and watching TV.
  3. Leave TV on in background while working on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and checking all notifications as they come in.
  4. Miss all natural occurrences of the day, including proper time for meals, the sun coming up and going down, using the bathroom at regular intervals, etc.
  5. Erik comes home and looking up at him as he walks in the door is a revelation in non-digital reality.

So, my challenge is this: How do I get interaction with the world when my commitments (and enjoyment) require me to stare at screens all day?

I have no coworkers and no friends that are available in the middle of the day for company. Occasionally, I will call a friend or family member during the day to get some human “contact”, but most days these people are busy with their own lives/jobs.

The funny thing is, when I try to set limits on the amount of time I spend staring at a screen, I feel guilty for “relaxing” instead of working.

Last night, E and I were laying in bed each on our own personal devices. I noticed what we were doing and started thinking about what my parents’ nights must have been like when I was a kid. I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, before cell phones and tablets were ubiquitous. My parents had a TV in their bedroom so they might have watched that when they went to bed. But if they didn’t watch TV, what did they do? Did they wait to go to bed until they were absolutely ready to close their eyes and go to sleep? Or did they have before bed rituals or activities that they looked forward to? Reading a book, writing about their day, or maybe enjoying each other’s company without distraction? (That last one is pretty unlikely considering how unhappy my parents were together. But that’s beside the point.)

I’ve tried, in the past, to banish screens of any kind from our bedroom, or at least our bed, but it never lasts for very long. We are both very attached to our phones. But I do find myself wondering if maybe our marriage and our individual lives might be better served by limiting the use of our devices near bedtime. Of course there are plenty of studies that enumerate the ills of blue light before bed. But more than that, I wonder what the social consequences are of allowing ourselves to be separated and isolated by devices that were designed to connect us.

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