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An era of desocialised screen junkies

As you are stuck in your digital comfort zone (so am I), you probably won’t enjoy what follows. To be fair, I hesitated writing this article because it’d make me get on the screen again after a full week spent at working on… writing articles (this is part of what I do for a living). The reason why I write this is because I want to plug off some bad habits for good. I need screen rehab.

Yes, of course, digital devices are handy and transformed our lives in some positive ways (I’ll pass on the zillions of data privacy breaches). However, as I was delightfully remote-working on a sunny terrace this afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the sadly laughable truth: we are so overwhelmed with screens that we can’t escape from them. They’re everywhere – even dogs have them!

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, headphones… we’re facing a relentless shitstorm of gadgets that clearly replaced our brains and decide for us. Yes, these were invented so we create dopamine enough to never conceive leaving them too far from us.

Humans, it’s time we acknowledge it. It’s too much. It’s time we admit that we are desocialised screen junkies. We’ve enough dopamine overdose. Even Steve Jobs didn’t want his kids to get on screens!

Stats show that it sucks owning a smartphone, too. On average, Brits spend 2 hours and 34 minutes on their smartphone every day. Damn, people, do you realise how serious this is? Every day, we dedicate almost three hours of our precious time to check our notifications when we should probably use this time to do something else. Life is so short!

Although I wonder, is there any way out? How many times did I commute last month without talking to anybody? People don’t talk anymore. Well it’s not as if they were engaging in London transport either, is it? They’re busy, okay? Head down, looking at their devices. Lucky black mirrors, getting all the looks, the smiles, the attention…

If I commute twice a day five days a week, it’s a good forty trips a month with my headphones on that cut me from the outside world. Weren’t we supposedly social animals or did I miss something? Oh my, we’re actually missing out more than we think!

The global digital addiction makes me increasingly nostalgic. I was born in 1990 and I remember being super creative with simple stuff at home and outside. Today I realise more than ever that being raised in the countryside presented some benefits. Even if I couldn’t stand it for too long, it’s quiet and seems like a much healthier option than London.

In my childhood, being from the last generation born before the digital revolution, I could let my mind go. I could set up a friend meeting using a simple landline and stick to the plan. I could use the family computer for one hour every day just to save our Internet connection data. I could call instead of texting, and exchange so much more than emotionless lines. I could write letters to my friends even if I was seeing them the next day in school.

Last fifteen years though, technology made me become someone else. Like everyone, I use my smartphone for everything but the primary function of a phone: voice calls. Silly! I hear everyone say « I hate phone calls ». Duh. And texts are outdated, who uses them today? All of our interactions go through social media. Basically, we wouldn’t know how to use a classic phone anymore. What an irony!

And you’re aware of the impact of blue light on our sleep, right? The blue light emitted from our multiple screens delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. The consequence is being sleep-deprived or poorly rested with a feeling of jet lag. Zombies!

Obviously, I’m not going to replay the speech about the disastrous impact of the energy being used to run our digital lives on our planet, because you know about that, right? It’s all over the news.

Considering these aspects, I do want to be better at spending time on screens. I know we can’t give up on our screens for good, they’re part of our system. But we can do better for ourselves, our health, our life, our environment.

So here’s a tip I’m willing to test.

As I need my smartphone for work, I can’t plug off during the week and need real-time checks. So starting with weekends, I’d like to build a screen routine. One half-an-hour session in the morning, same in the evening, it’s enough for what we realistically have to do on our phones. Then I can plug off for the rest of the day, relax my brain and stop wondering where is my phone when it’s actually in my hand. Ridiculous! That dopamine vicious circle. Screw being a digital junkie. Hell yes to #screenrehab.

Thanks for reading all the way.

Now I’m interested to hear from your experience, do you feel like we’re overwhelmed with screens too? Have you tried to get off your smartphone for a limited period of time? Did you feel a difference on your mood or your sleep? Share your thoughts in comments below.

1 reply on “An era of desocialised screen junkies”

Countryside this days is probably not the one you grow up in. Social media is everywhere. But I belive living outside of a big city could be more beneficial for your health, mental and physical as well. Same as some rest from screen, either mobile or TV.

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