This is a part of a series of thoughts for my next book, Slow Schooling…And Other Thoughts on Rescuing Childhood
The very uncomfortable realization of an overconsumption of media leads to equally uncomfortable choices ahead. If your media fast was fruitful, you may find some areas rather easy to decline the use of, say, an app that you rarely use anyway. But what if you use everything, and therein lies the problem?
One choice is of course to do nothing different or difficult at all. It is to keep to the comfort of the addiction and stay plugged into the machine(s). It is, after all, why psychotropic drugs and abusers are so powerful. We tend to want–to need–to stay where it is familiar. That tends to be compounded when we are surrounded by others who have a stake in keeping us there. The consequences of change seem too insurmountable, too frightening.
The other option is to reboot your life and find other things to do. My book, Present, details many of the things I did during the time I killed off my very addictive blogging habit. It was a good exercise, and many things were set aright during that time. I ended up returning to the blogging world (obviously), but knowing I could do without it gave me a real sense of control and peace.
It’s helpful to make lists when choosing the reboot. Lists of things like:
* what I want to learn
* experiences I want to have
* places I wish to visit
* on the bucket list
* stuff I loved to do when I was a kid
* goals for personal or professional growth
That way, when your mind feels blank and your options seem bleak, you can go to your list and pick at projects or pursuits, or take the time to make plans.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to go hiking…think I’ll head to the store and try on some boots…”
“I think I’ll check out that scythe-making class at the farm in the next county…”
“I’m finally going to read those business books every leader I respect keeps recommending…”
“The kitchen WILL be purged!”
Your kids can make the same kinds of lists. They can check out books from the library and teach themselves how to knit. They can procure scrap and build go-carts to race down the neighbor hills (maybe that will get the other kids outside!). They could bike to the corner store for ice cream, whittle a bowl from a chunk of wood, or get ahead in their Algebra.
Yes, the raging river of the internet will continue on by without you or your child. Yes, you’ll miss what’s trending or the freshest blog posts from your favorite writers. But you may discover the sound of oars in the water, make progress on your life’s goals, and create something that your heart and mind–your soul–can begin to grab and say a wholehearted “YES” to. You may end up finding out that a Real Life apart from the distraction of incessant media is far more addicting and satisfying.
Ultimately, if you desire your children to know the screen as a tool and not as a master, you must lead in this area. Are you willing?