Screens are taming us when we should be taking risks


I’m sitting the sofa, staring down absentmindedly at the spotted pattern of the cowhide rug beneath my feet. It’s Sunday, my newly instituted screen free day and I’m…


The thing is—I shouldn’t be bored. I can rattle off a list of eight things I like doing that have nothing to do with digital technology: hike, workout, cook, make something, play horseshoes, garden, declutter, write. Part of the reason I’m pushing myself away from screens is so that I can do more of these things.

So why is it so hard to get started? Why am I sitting on my sofa wishing I could flip on a sitcom instead of diving into any one of these eight things?

This got me thinking about how screens—phones, computers, TVs, tablets—lull us into watching and thus pull us away from the stuff we’d rather be doing.

Screens have tamed us, turning us into passive observers in our own lives.

For instance, I bet you can name at least one or two things you’re putting off right now. Hobbies you’d like to practice, skills you’d like to learn, places you’d like to visit. Why aren’t you doing them? Why are you watching a little blue screen instead, fully knowing that it’s less satisfying and leads to nothing?

Even more, what are you avoiding? What issues are you running from, and what new thing are you afraid to start? Because I bet you have a couple of those, two. I know I do.

I use screens to distract me from these things, to help me procrastinate, to help me run from problems. My heart wants adventure, risk, nature, growth. I want to build things and make things and explore things and fight for a good thing.

Instead, I’m choosing a screen.

Giving up what we really want to do shouldn’t be so easy…and yet it is

This choice is unsettling. It shouldn’t be SO EASY to put away the things in our hearts and minds, and yet screens have made it so. Power on, zone out. One press of a button and we’re stepping right out of the life we could be living and into a cage of our own making. And like animals in captivity, we begin to forget what life could be like on the outside.

By taking a day off from screens, I’m stepping outside of the cage, if even for a few hours. I’ll be honest—I don’t feel freedom. Instead, I feel the pressure of actually having to fill my newly screen-free time with real things. And…well…I’d rather not. It’s harder to do the things on my list, and I’m hooked on easy. But I don’t care—I’m committed to the harder thing anyway. The reward, which is actually living my life, is worth it.

Try it. Join me in a screen-free day. It’s a small commitment and could be the start of a new chapter of your life. Your actual life.

Related: Do you spend as much time looking at screens as I do?

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