This past weekend, I did something I rarely do: I got in front of a screen when I first woke up. It all started innocently enough. I was trying to meet a deadline, and I figured I could use the time before my husband got up to get some work done.
Very logical. Very productive. Only…I know better.
And what I know is this. When I start my day in front of a screen, I am a different person, and not for the better. Important fundamentals of my day, like my morning practice, gets left out. The pacing and rhythm of my internal states gets revved up to match the speed of a machine; leaving me impatient with myself and those around me. My emotional satisfaction suffers. Meaning nothing, other than a screen, quite does it for me.
All in all, I am not myself. Not the self I most want to be anyway.
Years ago, we didn’t know the impact of the screens. Didn’t know the levels of disconnect and addiction that would come with these new toys of ours. But now we do know. Which begs the question, Now what?
It’s going to take some very intentional choices on our part to not let our humanity be gobbled up by the machines. To not allow something that has no soul to dictate to us how we will live our lives. To not become the causalities of our own creative hubris.
How do we do this?
It won’t be through more information. We’ve got more than enough (and have for years) research, antidotes and personal observations to support the downside and the continued erosion of our humanity when it comes to how we use these devices of ours. We see it in the increased levels of depression, anxiety, breakdowns in common decency, the cancel culture, and the overall epidemic of being more interested in a screen than in the living of our lives.
What we need instead is a commitment to ourselves. A devotion to what is most important. A vow to each other to never let an inanimate object come between us. This will take guts and perseverance. It will take doing things differently than those around you. It will take breaking addictive cycles in your life.
Try this simple gesture to yourself each morning as a direct way to get started reclaiming more of your humanity. When you get up in the morning, do something, anything, except get on a device first thing. Perhaps you step outside for a breath of fresh air. Maybe you have an in-person conversation. Maybe you stretch or go for a walk. Perhaps you sip your morning coffee while looking out a window.
It really doesn’t matter what you do. Only that you check in with real human needs before inserting a screen into your morning. Set a boundary somewhere in the first moments of your day, stick to it and pay attention to what happens. Let the sheer satisfaction of giving yourself something you really need be the guiding force in all your decisions when it comes to your life.
This as opposed to letting a machine tell you what you need and what is most important.