For many of us, technology has become an integral part of life, so much so that many of us don’t feel like we could live without it. It’s as if we forgot what life would be like without Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, chatting, or even our cell phones at all. Louis C.K is a standup comedian who made an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. Here’s what he had to say:
While this can be funny, the reality is, he’s got a point. How many people do you walk by nowadays who are looking down at a screen. The next time you go to a restaurant glance around and see how many people are interacting with people and how many are interacting with screens.
Now, I’m not saying it’s inherently bad to interact with screens, what's now been called in our culture “screen time.” However, we also have to recognize that this is still new technology in our culture that we are fairly immature in managing this.
In 2008, studies found that Teens spend about 20-50 hours of screen time per week. I imagine adults aren’t too far behind and that this statistic has also risen a bit since then. This is all a great big experiment in how it changes our lives and culture for better and worse and it’s worth being curious about. I say for better and worse, because certainly technology has arguable transformed and continues to transform our lives and cultures in very positive ways.
For example, Mindful Solutions at Work is an IPhone app that helps train our minds to step away from the phone and not only de-stress but to be more in control of where we place our attention. This provides us with more skills to ramp up our maturity in relationship to this new technology.
Today, we simply have so many things pulling our attention. It’s really like that, you here the special notification that a message came in, or there’s a blinking red light on your phone, or maybe you haven’t heard something in a while so you just check anyway, because after all you could have a Facebook message, a tweet, an email, a phone call, a text message, and a barrage of other notifications from YouTube, sports scores, blog feeds, etc…
We’re developing brains that are masterful at continuous partial attention, coined by Linda Stone.
The question I always like to ask is “What in life are you getting from the screen and what are you missing out on when your mind is pulled continuously toward the screen?”
If you reflect back on your day, how much screen time do you typically practice? What about it is helpful to you and what about it is a hindrance to you?
There really is no better time than now to take an audit of this.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.