When I was down in Florida, my brother and our friends told me about something they started doing every day: 2 Hours of No Screen Time. The idea is that for 2 hours every day, they forget about their phones, their computers, the TV, and any other screen they otherwise spend too much time in front of. Instead, they do something outside, or read, or some other low-tech activity. I loved this idea so much I’ve decided to start doing it as well.
I notice a lot of things at Walt Disney World that often happen in the “real world” as well; they are usually amplified when thousands of people on vacation get togther. One such thing is how much time people spend looking at or through a screen.Living life through a screen is like walking around without glasses. Click To Tweet
Many folks are so concerned with capturing moments on their phones that they aren’t really seeing what they are doing. The result is that they don’t have any real memories of the event, or only partially formed, blurry memories.
A Father & Son
There’s one story in particular that sticks out in my mind. It was around Christmas, and Disney World does Christmas right. The fireworks were a 280 degree panoramic show around the castle. A father has his son on his shoulders, and an iPad up in front of them both to record the fireworks. The son kept asking his dad to pay attention to him and the father kept insisting that it was important he record this event. After a few more minutes of pleading, the father finally said, “OK but don’t blame me when you want to watch this in 10 years and can’t.”
It broke my heart a little that the father was more concerned with recording the show than actually experiencing it with his son. But it occured to me that I’m guilty of the same sort of actions.
Screens are a Time Suck
Don’t get me wrong – I love screens! I wouldn’t have a job or a book without them. But it’s really easy for us to default to ‘stare at a screen’ when we are bored or uncomfortable instead of dealing with the moment we are in. Someone pointed out to me that kids don’t know how to be bored, and that can have some bad consequences on one’s imagination.People don't know how to be bored anymore and that can inhibit one's imagination. Click To Tweet
When we were kids, my brothers and I would pass the time on lines by asking each other Friends or Scrubs trivia. One time when the Tower of Terror was broken down, we did it for 2 and a half hours! It’s one of my fonder memories of our family vacations. I fear that people today just won’t have experiences like that.
But enough doom and gloom. Onto the challenge.
Go 2 Hours, Every Day, for 30 Days, without looking at a Screen
There was a time not too long ago where we didn’t have the luxury of using a mobile device to pass the time. I know that I rely too much on my devices – my computer, my tablet, and my phones (plural!). But I also know there’s other stuff I want to do. I want to read more, and spend more time at getting in shape, or just enjoy being outside.
So this week I started the challege that my brother and friends have been doing for a few weeks. For the next 30 days (maybe more) I will spend at least 2 hours a day without any type of screen – that’s my computer, my phone, tablet, or TV. I need to do something that is low-to-no-tech. My first order of business is to read Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull.
The biggest challege for me is ignoring notifications, so I’m thinking I’ll turn “Do Not Disturb” on, allowing only calls from my ‘Favorites’ list, which includes Erin, my parents, and my brothers. I’ll know it’s an emergency if they call more than once.
I’m pretty excited to do this – I think it will be as challengeing as it will be refreshing. If you’re interested in participating, leave a comment. Maybe we can get a nifty little community going.