Screen (Ab)Use: Are We Near a Breaking Point?

Posted on: Friday, December 11th, 2015
Posted in: Unplugging | Leave a comment

Teaching a writing course at an arts college and raising a family introduces me to creative, diverse youth—including Millennials. Their views about devices/SM/screen-living may be shifting: More and more of them have had enough. They can’t exactly turn it all off (who can?). But they now suspect that less is more.

Too much Facebook can make you feel like this.

Too much Facebook can make you feel like this.

  • Try the itsy-bitsy sabbatical

Work, communication, and entertainment (and, of course, shopping) continue to become evermore screen-centered. So if you’ve got a, like, life, you have little choice but to stay plugged-in. That’s where much of your life lives these days.

Like my students, though, more voices are questioning that focus. This article by career coach Joyce Russell promoting 60-second breaks acknowledges that most folks are working longer hours (on-screen), but then asserts that the brain just can’t keep going and going like the Eveready bunny—without recharging.

  • It’s your brain, stupid

Ms. Russell is on to something. She recommends you don’t just jump from one screen chore to another, but,

Substitute restorative activities such as listening to music, enjoying nature, meditating, engaging in social interactions, daydreaming, phoning your children or partner, reading a fun book, drawing or doodling.”

I’ll second that motion—and suggest adding some motion. As in movement. I work a lot at home, FBOW, but it DOES allow me to garden, kayak, and tend to the property in bits and pieces. Oh sure, I sometimes get sidetracked and lose myself to menial (or epic) chores. But often, raking leaves becomes quite refreshing when compared to managing more emails.

BreakAway from your screens and feel like this!

BreakAway from your screens and feel like this!

  • Quitting FB = 😊

The old joke goes, Q: What’s the best part about not being on Facebook? A: Not being on Facebook!

Now there’s a stream of research finding that the joke isn’t just funny, it may be true. “Quitting Facebook makes you happier,” states a recent story with a sub that shouts, “Other studies have shown a link between Facebook and symptoms of depression.”

The study comes from the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen, and found that participants who maintained ongoing use of FB were 55% more likely to feel stressed than those who took a one-week break. One week!

Apparently, the perky, gloating trend of FB posts invites self-comparison. And who can possibly win against that nonstop Pollyanna, check-me-out! barrage? The study summarizes:

Social media is a nonstop great news channel, a constant flow of edited lives which distorts our perception of reality.”

As a fledgling humorist, I’ve tried to be funny, ironic, and maybe even snide on FB. How’d those posts do? Not well. I’ve gotten serious replies (as if people didn’t get the joke). I’ve received resistance. But mostly, I’ve gotten ignored. If there were a “dislike” button, I’d probably have a collection.

That, too, was depressing. So I, too, stick mostly to sunrises, kid pics, and the occasional look-at-this-cool-thing-I’m doing! post. FB aficionados “like” those.

Real life shows up in many colors and moods. Except for on Facebook, they all have their place. The richest and most complex are right on front of you. And no, not on that screen.

Are we reaching a breaking point?

Can you BreakAway?

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