First of all, I apologize for not posting in several days. I’ve been out of commission.
But today I feel better, so here we go:
You know what I notice about technology? It’s a tough thing to break away from.
But what if our addiction to it isn’t just because its addictive (though it is as addictive as drugs.) What if we have more addicts in our culture simply because our values have altered so much that we encourage it?
That’s not really a new idea, but I think the implications of it tend to go over our heads.
We can all agree that entertainment industries feed our addictions. They even have the audacity to boast in their commercials that they are “binge–worthy, you can’t miss it, you can’t go without it, it’s irresistible”… sounds familiar right?
What if I said that about my posts? You have to read this. (Hey, we get emails titled that don’t we?)
Well, I’m not kidding myself. No one has to read my stuff. No one is going to die if they don’t see my latest. Come on.
Frankly those commercials annoy the heck out of me.
But how little resistance there is to them now. Being an addict is even kind of cool now, in the meaningless way anything is cool nowadays. (Cool used to be a certain way of acting and thinking and dressing, now I’m not sure what it means except that you like something.)
People joke (READ:Brag) about binging on things that they can’t get enough of. And the rest of us laugh; ha ha, they have no self control, it’s hilarious!
I suppose it’s equally hilarious when it is deadly things like drugs and alcohol.
So what about technology? We’re proud of being addicted to that too. Well, I’m not.
I don’t mind loving a good show or movie, or finding usefulness in electronics, but that’s nothing to be proud of.
The pride isn’t obvious, most of us wouldn’t use that word at all; but what else would you call it?
Getting the latest version of whatever. Getting to a more difficult level of a video game. Getting so many likes or views on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, you name it.
Getting a bigger TV, getting a better car, getting those channels on TV that other people can’t get.
Being able to say you’ve seen every single episode of this show, or that you’ve seen this movie so many times in theaters.
Even being slightly embarrassed about how much you consume can be something to brag about….I’m not clear on why. It just is.
Because somehow, admitting it makes it okay. I may do nothing at all to rectify my problem, but at least I’m not deceiving myself.
Except I am. Many of us are. We think that just because our friends (both in person and online) don’t judge us for our weaknesses in addiction, that means it’s okay.
Which is like a colorblind person thinking they know the difference between yellow and pink, just because all their friends are blind.
That’s an unlikely example in the physical world, but when it comes to mental things, it’s all too common.
The fact is, all our friends are not likely to point out our problem because chances are we only make friends with people who have the very dame problem.
What would most Americans have in common with anyone who did not own a TV, or a smart phone, and preferred old fashioned entertainments and knew nothing about pop culture.
I don’t mean to generalize, there are Americans who don’t buy into all that stuff, but there’s precious few of us who don’t own a TV and struggle with this problem at some level.
What’s hard is even getting the younger generation to see it as a problem. They have grown up with their lives wrapped around technology and entertainment. They boast about how much of it they consume.
The older generation admits it’s a problem but often is too susceptible to it themselves and they don’t set a strong example.
In my family the problem tends to be that each person spends a portion of the day engaged in other activities, but we don’t do it at the same time. One person’s play hour might be another’s work hour, so we distract each other without meaning to.
In some ways, having a designated room for TV and another for study and work is a better arrangement, but too often it becomes an excuse for isolation.
I know I harp on about this subject a lot, but part of the reason is that I mself notice that if I’m not regularly reminded of the dangers of screen addiction, I start slipping into it and not bothering to fight it.
So I’ll end with a few tips for at least cutting back on it, though eliminating it completely is something I haven’t figured out yet.
- Don’t be constant: It sounds like weird advice, but one thing to do is to limit what you watch in a day. One TV program, one movie. My mom used to give us time limits for how long we could use the computer for a movie or game. Sometimes I hold off watching anything until a certain time of day, and then only one thing. (It’s too easy now to just passively sit while someone else puts on something unfortunately, but if you live alone or with less people that’s not such a problem.)
- Just don’t: Kids and teens will usually give into the temptation without much resistance; not because they are by nature more susceptible to addiction, but because they tend to go along with what adults are doing, and make poor choices when left to themselves. Humanity in general is not apt to make wise choices as it is. But with no one to watch us, we tend to do worse. So just don’t let your kids have access to technology except when it’s necessary or it’s a special occasion.
That’s about all I’ve got. Self control in this area is particularly difficult due to how often we are tempted. Total abstinence seems to be the only guarantee for never slipping.
But since perfection is not what we can expect, limitations are a good place to begin.
I don’t give up hope of conquering this addiction, but I admit it is hard and the hardest part is realizing it’s a problem. It just doesn’t feel like a problem most of the time.
Anyway, here’s hoping, until next time–Natasha.