Since the invention of the television, people have had a growing love affair with screens of all shapes and sizes.
All along our march toward bigger and better, and smaller and better screens some voices have been decrying the dangers of addiction to the various iterations of screendom.
To call it addiction seems to trivialize true substance addiction. Aren’t we also addicted to paved roads and telephones? These, along with our screens are an unavoidable part of life.
If we’re honest, we must admit that for many of us, screen time consumes large portions of our day. If you combine all the screens in your life it may be as high as twelve hour a day. Yikes!
Once a week or so, I see a Facebook status from one person or another announcing their renouncing of Facebook to focus on more important things such as God and family.
Maybe it’s a religious trend. Last Sunday the pastor of a prominent evangelical church published a letter that seemed to suggest that his overuse of social media (along with other missteps) required that he hire additional pastors to make him more accountable.
In another case, one jazz musician, Sinj Clarke blamed screen addiction for throwing his musical passion off track. (Source)
But maybe the screen time is not the real issue. Could it be that we are Narcissus, peering into the pond only to behold the reflection of our own image staring back at us? Oh, how we love that image. Oh, how unsatisfying to realize it cannot return the love we seek. And yet, we cannot avert our eyes. It is as though we seek permission in the approval of friends and followers to love ourselves.
When we measure our own worth in the currency of likes and retweets, it is time to rethink our involvement in social media.
Perhaps that unsatisfying experience is what motivates people to try and swear off social media. If a radical departure is what you need, then do it. For the rest of us, a taming of the beast might be just the thing we need. Here are some ideas.
1. Figure out your life purpose and make your social media involvement serve that purpose. Here is a TedTalk to help you get started.
2. Keep a list of key activities that are more important to you than scrolling through your social media feed. Do it now, instead of scrolling your feed.
3. Say no to social media when you’re driving, eating with others, being paid to do your job or having sex. Too bad I had to say that.
4. One screen at a time. If you have choose which screen to attend to, you might watch less TV.
5. Schedule your screen time. When you do log on, check in or connect on social media, be kind, be brief and be gone.
6. If there is a choice between mindless scrolling and an actual conversation, choose the conversation. The person in front of you is far more interested in what you have to say than the few hundred who would forget you if they never saw your status updates.