Most of my articles are on business and strategy but sometimes I have to throw some lifestyle stuff up. Lifestyle impacts both business and strategy because if you are feeling good and fulfilled you will make smart moves. Feeling sad and down, well, that is a long road that is riddled with self destructive decisions. Let’s talk about the screen plague:
I’m an extrovert so I make an effort to get out, talk to people, learn, and experience because it makes me feel good. I still like to wind-down once and awhile and pop on tv. I know introverts that find peace in the quiet times but even they need social releases once and awhile. That being said, I think over the last 10 years both introverts and extroverts have been hit with the Screen Plague. A social media, binge watching habit has formed in many people and although the ad money is great for companies our society as a whole is suffering.
I think humans have to fill the humanity tank once and awhile but we’re doing it less and less. Extrovert or introvert, I know no one that has zero interaction with the world, their neighbors, and society and also feels good, happy or fulfilled. The humanity tank is what binds us with our species and tells us there is hope, beauty, life, and a point to surviving and enduring. When we breathe fresh air, see a stranger smile, see a kid laugh, and actually hear it, and walk towards or away from it, we are filling the humanity tank. We are a social species. When we watch these moments on TV they are not real, it doesn’t feel the same being behind a screen.
Screens whether they are tvs, laptops, video games, or phones have turned into a plague. Screens are so available, so cheap, so distracting, seemingly so risk free, and simple but what is the true cost of screens? We aren’t living in the moment creating memories with others but rather we are watching others live life on a screen. It’s dangerous and yet so convenient. I think Netflix, Amazon Prime, Instagram, and Facebook allow us to live behind screens but in doing so force us to lose touch with community. Screens are convenient. They are distracting from thoughts we might not want or work we should be doing. I think screen time is being used to self-medication to hide from reality and awkwardness. I think the result is causing loneliness and depression. It’s also causing cultural divides and friction at home. Regardless of demographic, most people are really similar and dealing with similar shit. We forget that when we haven’t bumped into anyone else fighting with their husband or scolding their children because we have no need nowadays to really step outside and experience.
Example. Malls are empty now, for several reasons: 1. Things are marked up too much 2. Rent is too high so good stores leave or mark things up. 3. People who shouldn’t be doing sales are because the economy sucks so they are rude and don’t know anything. That makes us just go shop online. Yet, why did we go to malls in the first place? We got dressed up. We bumped into friends. We made friends. We had dialogue with shopkeepers. The mall made us feel anchored in society. Now the mall is a desert that makes us feel creeped out about where all the humans went….behind screens at home.
1. Test this out. Go to the mall tomorrow. Go for a walk in a busy park. Take a class with strangers in it. I guarantee you will feel good when you get home. In the moment you might feel uncomfortable or awkward because you are rusty at being sociable, and human. Do it more and you’ll feel less awkward.
2. Test this out. Read a book for 5 minutes a night. Just turn off Netflix and put down your phone. Remember that thing called imagination that you haven’t used since you’ve been behind a screen as an anti-social zombie? It’ll pick back up. Reading allows your brain to create scenes and then run with it.
Test this out. When you are feeling down, depressed, isolated and alone don’t just go to the doctors for anti-depressants or hormone tests but try 1 and 2 above. Take a class and learn. Sure, you might have a chemical imbalance but most likely it’s something else, maybe being isolated, and can be solved in another way. We need to feel human again and get off meds. Put down your phone.
We need to be interacting one on one in person. We need to go to bed before 2 am . We need to learn skills. Read books. Write stories. We need to grow. We need to be human. We are a social species. We need to get off the devices and away from the sources making us zombies. Want an example of the screen plague? Go to an airport bar. Everyone will be on their phone. It’s bizarre. Break the chain, say hi to the person next to you. It’s not creepy, it’s human.
I am not saying delete facebook and stop watching tv. We all need to unwind. I am saying we need balance. If unwinding is a full weekend of Netflix then there is a problem and I bet you feel crappy on Monday. Your subconscious knows that are wasting time and life. Eventually we will be too old to walk about, run, fall without breaking a hip, and I think we will all be upset about how much time we spent behind screens.. People can name more tv shows than names of neighbors in their neighborhood and that to me, is crazy. When you wake up in the morning before touching your phone have a sip of water, stretch, say hi to your spouse. NOTHING is going on that is more important than the moment.
People seem angry. The media is playing games with that anger. Those games are causing people to feel anxious about war, the economy, and feel distant from other people based on money, color or region. Like I said we are all way more similar than we think and we forget that because we are zombies behind screens. The anger would be dialed down if we accepted that we have no control over war and the economy but we do have control over us being happy as individuals and as a group.
We cant be fulfilled humans if we hide indoors behind screens laughing at fictitious characters and avoiding other humans. Get out. Feel awkward. Make life a journey and not a really long repetitive boring marathon of work tv eat repeat.
So, turn the screen off and start doing something cool.