---- — Have you ever counted just how many hours you spend in front of one screen or another, both at home and at work? If so, you may be one of the many who finds yourself addicted to viewing life through a screen. I looked at this for myself and found the result disturbing.
The majority of my waking hours are spent in this way, looking at the computer for information and checking emails; the phone for up-to-the-minute weather or texts; and, of course, the TV for entertainment and occasional education. I also notice most of this screen viewing is done while sitting, slouched in a chair or on the bed.
At the risk of sounding counterculture, I question if all this advancement in technology is in fact leading us down the road to a very unhealthy lifestyle. It is one that encourages us to be not only sedentary and consuming fast food, but also makes us dependent on our screen for the instantaneous communications we think we must have.
There is, of course, always a choice to take better care of ourselves ... like getting up from the chair at least every hour, leaving the screen, walking around, stretching some, getting some fresh air and then going back to sit for another hour. But, too often, I hear the mantra: “No time; too busy; gotta keep on keeping on.”
It is a bit sad to recall how, in the not-so-recent past, much more time was spent with friends and family, talking to one another, visiting face to face, in person. But now, most of us no longer value this so highly and instead use voice messaging and email and text, all of which, unquestionably, are quicker, but at the cost of losing the depth that comes from taking the time to develop and sustain relationships.
When we do have some “down time,” many of us turn on the TV drug. I admit to being caught up watching way too many shows not always worthy of my attention. I find myself in conflict over this and do admire those few who say they hardly watch their TV. I conclude they must have far more interesting lives. By not being habitual TV watchers, they seek out and find new, and perhaps more rewarding, ways to keep themselves occupied.
According to Nielsen statistics, “The average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television — plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.” The statistics also reveal that after age 65, the average person watches 48 hours a week, or nearly seven hours a day. That is a lot of screen time.
I know I do not want to be part of this statistic. When I have spent the better part of an evening watching some worthless show with all the insipid and insulting pharmaceutical advertisements, I ask myself, “Is this all there is? Is it not better to be living a full and vibrant life, rather than sitting endlessly in front of a screen?”
As someone in the last third of my life, a time when I can choose to be less busy, how do I want to spend my time? What uplifts me? How to factor in all that I need for my betterment, like eating well, exercising, meditating, reading a good book, writing something of worth, connecting in a personal way with loved ones? Can I commit to being in nature at least part of most days, reaping the benefits from walking out of doors, breathing in fresh air, while staying away from all those demanding machines?
Being in balance and moderate in all things is the key. Yes, undeniably, all the advancement in technology with its instant gratification has its virtues. But, when I see how easy it is to get hooked on watching someone else’s reality show, I know I have to recommit to creating my very own compelling reality, even if I am the only one watching.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport teaches Wellness Workshops, Kripalu Slow Flow Yoga, and “Sit Down and Move” classes to boomers and beyond. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.