Just found out that this week is Screen Free Week. Surprise to me!
While I’m all on board for unplugging and getting out for a while, I can’t say that I agree with the Screen Free’s overall premise.
Take the hypothetical situation of ditching your shoes. There’s nothing wrong with going barefoot while your at the park. The feel of grass between your toes, running around like a little kid. Sure, go for it. But let’s say you decide to go shoeless for a week. Some of your acquaintances are going to stop talking to, you’ll have become that creepy guy who stopped wearing shoes. Also you won’t have groceries for a week, since the market isn’t letting in without shoes. You might get used to watching the ground everywhere you go just to make sure you aren’t about to step on a jagged rock, piece of glass, or stray Lego.
Shoe’s are such a part of our daily lives, and to stop using them for a week is going to cause some problems.
Same thing with our screens. I bike ride occasionally. On the ride out, I rock audiobooks and podcasts, on the ride in, I unplug and listen to the sounds along the trail. There is value in it. but if I unplugged for a week, cold turkey, dear god…
One it would mean I wouldn’t have any contact with my fiance who right now lives down state (She would be pretty upset with me I’m guessing). My project team would probably beat me with sticks since i wouldn’t be able to get any work done. No phone calls (screen on my phone). No work done. No bills paid. Friends and acquaintances offended that I’m not responding to emails… I can go on.
I think what groups like Screen Free forget is that for all the problems; Mass Marketing, decreased concentration and activity in school children, poor academic performance… Our screens have permeated our worlds and help us as much as, if not more then, they hurt us.
Here is what I propose instead of unplugging for a week:
Screen Free is encouraging users to reevaluate their relationships with technology. I agree this is something each person should do. But don’t do it by unplugging for a week. Start looking into how you can reverse the negative effects of screen time on your life. Take your kids Geo Caching and let the screen enhance your outdoor experience. Ride a bike, stop to take pictures on your ride, then map your route online. Boot Linux, and start learning with your kids. The question I am asking myself this week is not am I spending too much time in front of a screen. The questions I’m asking myself this week is Is my screen helping me live the life I want, and how can my screen help me live the way I want.