Thursday, April 23, 2015

Examining Your Selfie

Life in the month of April is always incredibly full. My job is insane, church activities take up a lot of my time due to the Easter holiday, taxes are due, and it is finally time to start on our vegetable garden. During times of stress, it is easy to close oneself off and spiral into introversion. This year's April was proving to be on-trend.

Jeff and I decided to try an interesting experiment last week. During this time of the year when we want nothing more than to pour a glass of wine and lose ourselves in the television every night, we resolved to make it "No Screens Week." This meant no cell phones, computers, television, iPad, etc. for an entire week! Of course, there were exceptions. I work with a minimum of 2 computer monitors every day, Jeff needs his laptop for work, my iPad holds my books, and telephone calls and minimal amounts of texting were still allowed. However, other than these few instances, grabbing our phones at the first sign of idleness was strictly off limits.

The first night, when we would normally turn on the television after Everett went to bed, Jeff and I looked at each other and had no idea what to do. At 9:00pm, Jeff finally said, "I'm bored. I'm going to bed now." We both got an excellent night sleep, and we woke up the next day more refreshed and revitalized than we had been in months.

The next night we opened a board game we have had for years, but never played. It was the kind of game that requires you to do a lot of adding, and we were forced to use our brains in a way we have not done since before Everett was born. It felt good.

By night three, we had gone to Target to buy a new cribbage board (among other things), we both started new books, and I started a new crochet project. By the end of the week I had finished 2 books, started my gardening projects 3 weeks ahead of my anticipated schedule (and made a HUGE dent), made a list of housework priorities, and most importantly, reconnected with my husband and son. It is amazing how easy it is to go on a bike ride or hike when there are no other distractions keeping you bound to the couch (and your smartphone).

I started noticing how obsessed people are with their phones. I was having a serious conversation with a good friend, and was actually a little offended when she took out her phone and checked it while I was in the middle of a sentence. I then recognized that I have definitely done this to many of my friends in the past. Sometimes I will take out my phone to check the time. I'll click on the home button, stare at it for a few seconds, then click the home button again to turn it off. In that time, I never even glanced at the clock to check the time; I simply wanted to touch my phone, to know that its power was still available to me, and that feeling of dependency is eerily comforting. Sometimes I will open my phone, forget why I opened it in the first place, so I will open the Instagram app and get lost in a stranger's pictures of her corgi. After 20 minutes of watching mindless videos of people feeding panda bears, I will finally remember that I was supposed to call my mom.

I love my phone. I cannot imagine life without its conveniences. I love feeling connected to people that I would know nothing about otherwise. I could never give up my phone permanently, but a week was the perfect amount of time to give me a priority reset. If you are ever feeling consumed by technology, I highly recommend a No Screens Week.

Also, I discovered that the radio still exists! Who knew?

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