I'm currently taking part in an eight week online lifestyle challenge called The Whole Life Challenge. In this challenge you compete against other teams to work on developing certain habits that can improve your life. I'm not so interested in the competitive side of the challenge, but I do like the fact that on a daily basis it makes me reflect on my nutrition, hydration, exercise, mobility and sleep. Every week there is also a lifestyle challenge, for instance in week one we had to keep a journal, this week we have to carry out at least one intentional act of kindness on a daily basis. Last week's challenge was to limit your time on the Big Four namely Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. Messaging and forms of real-life communication were fine. The challenge specified that you were allowed to view your feeds once a day but that was it. I was pretty shocked because I failed this challenge on a spectacular level. It also highlighted to me the amount of time that I spend "screen-bathing". I drew a parallel with sun-bathing. Sun-light in moderation has benefits, but if you saw someone lying on a sun-lounger exposing their skin for twelve hours day after day, I think you would be concerned.
And yet that is precisely what we do with "screen-bathing". Yesterday I kept a tally of my "screen-bathing" with an app called Screen Time Parental Control. I discovered that my phone was the focus of my gaze for an appalling 4 hours and 26 minutes. This did not include the "screen-bathing" done on my computer at work. Nor did it include 2 hours "screen-bathing" as I watched TV later on in the evening.
I easily spent over 50% of my waking day "screen-bathing". And in case you are wondering, this bothers me immensely. What am I doing with my life? Was it important? Did it make me feel good? Did it make me feel sad? Did it make me feel anything? Outside it was a beautiful day, the ocean was waiting, the beach was waiting, but somehow scrolling through an endless "news" feed took priority. Admittedly it is not all social media. I have an app for meditation, I learn German with Duolingo and I monitor my steps with my Fitbit app. But nonetheless I am still burning up in the glare of my screen. Eyes glazed, shoulders hunched, it's no wonder that my fingers are fuzzy with cubital-tunnel-syndrome. So this morning I figured I'd set myself a new challenge and I'd consciously switch off my phone and my computer for at least 60 minutes.
I'm 43 minutes in. I did 15 minutes of stretching on my yoga mat and then I figured I'd write this article in my notebook. The kettle is boiling as I write this. I need a cup of tea. I make my brew and I walk over to my phone. I don't pick it up, but I take note of how bad this has become. I can make excuses, I can justify myself with lots of reasons, but the reality is I am addicted to pointless "screen-bathing". I'm 52 minutes in, it's a case of mind over matter, but I'm pondering over my problem and I'm thinking can I SWITCH OFF EVERY DAY FOR 60 MINUTES? I take a sip of my tea and look at the clock. I read back over my article. I'm 57 minutes in. CAN I RESIST?