Monday, 21 March 2016

Mindful Monday: Screen Addiction Confession

I am coming to the realization that I am addicted to screens. My phone and laptop are like silent sirens, constantly calling to my subconscious, reminding me that they are oh-so-available, and without even thinking about it I am drawn back again and again.

It's been hovering in the back of my mind to write this for a while, except the weakness is so strong (oxymoron much?) that I haven't even been sure if I want to change. I know that I want to - want to.

A couple days ago I sat down on the floor by our sliding glass door to eat my lunch and realized with horror that I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten by myself without a screen in front of my face.

Ben and I eat sit down meals together (which, btw, would be one of my top pieces of marriage advice), but when he's away or eating lunch at work, my go-to is a seat on the couch with the laptop. A sandwich in one hand, typing or browsing with the other. The baby is usually playing on his mat or tucked beside me with some toys.

But I wish I could say this was only at lunch. 

For the very few things I actually have to check online (email, weather, Facebook, Pinterest), I spend a surprising amount of time checking them. I even find myself staring at the empty browser wondering what else I can come up with to look at. Over and over throughout the day, I put myself to some task or pursuit, but before I know it, there I am back at the computer again. Even my Lenten resolution to make a difference in this area wasted away to the bare minimum of its initial form.

Why is it so addictive? I suppose because it is just so effortless. Most other activities take at least a bit of brain power or elbow grease, whether designing a piece of art, washing dishes, or even singing! Looking at a screen is the easiest, laziest, most passive pastime. So much so that it becomes a default, a resting spot in between anything that requires more exertion. 

The addiction is also fuelled by conditioning to constant entertainment. I grab my phone to "have something to do" while eating my cereal or nursing the baby, and forget to simply immerse myself in eating my cereal, and nursing the baby!

In my heart, I don't do it :) I'm not "that type of person", haha. I've always been one to sing the praises of real life, and to remonstrate with my brothers for their hours of gaming. Yet here I am. 
It's time to be honest with myself. This addiction looks so innocent, yet it steals from everything: productivity, the cleanliness and order of our home, my relationships with Ben and Perrin, prayer, exercise... It even eats away at my peace of mind, for after spending a while online I feel discouraged and guilty.

I don't think I'm a hopeless case, or that I should stop using the devices. Nor am I alone. This whole generation has its task cut out to find balance in such an abundant availability of digital reality. What I do need to do is start being really mindful about my screen use. Pare down to only the useful, not the wasteful. Make a conscious decision to put it down, away, out of my mind, to take a deep breath, and to open myself fully to the world around me. Hopefully putting this out there in written words will help my resolve :)

So here's to embracing life! There is so much wonderful life to be lived. The air is fresh and chilly, full of health and the promise of spring, if only we take the chance to breathe it. The chicken is such fun to watch, trotting around the yard, paying calls to the bunnies and investigating the compost pile. There are new spices in the cupboard to tweak an old recipe. Who knows what interesting conversations might result from just relaxing with the husband? And there is that round, bright baby face right beside me, waiting to laugh at the first sight of fun, ready to be delighted when I turn to him, watching for attention and affection and all the neat things I can help him to experience. 

Hopefully in time, when I remember to check my email, pulling out the laptop from some forgotten corner and dusting it off, I will find that even before I am finished, the bugle call of real life has summoned me back into its wholeness.


  1. Very timely post. I am guilty of reaching for the phone a lot, even in the middle of the night when I am blurry eyed and half asleep. I just came across a book by Chanon Ross called "Gifts Glittering and Poisoned" that looks at the theological significance of spectacle, and it's a fantastic read. Thank you for this post.

  2. Good post Katie. Good to keep a balance. We didn't have this distraction when our kids were young. And as you say it is just so easy. When I'm with Johnny at the park I watch him play, I never go on my phone. Nothing on the phone can compete with my grandson!