Screen Time: A Meditation on Unplugging


I’m jumping back into writing like I never left. Please don’t ask me about it. Thnx bb's 😘 I recently upgraded my phone because the screen went rogue (I had to hold down a specific corner with exact pressure to text it was horrible 😩). After getting locked out of my Apple ID for 24 American hours, I was finally able to settle into a new glowing rectangle. I love it. My rectangle knows me when I’m eating a chicken tender, wearing a wig or turban, and in the wee hours of the night when I wake up dazed and confused. Unfortunately, my rectangle does not know how to mind its own business.

My rectangle tells me things like “13 minutes to home” when it senses I’m leaving work (this is rare though because I'm a freelancer with many jobs that I leave at random times so take that, technology!). It’ll also read my texts and make calendar dates and auto fill security codes in apps. Kinda cool, very creepy. The main way my glowing rectangle swerves out of its lane and the central meditation of this post is screen time and what it means to unplug as a digital professional.

"Screen time" has become a buzzword in our modern digital era. Babies should have like none apparently but they all on YouTube. Millennials can't unlatch and the elders are busy tagging "you and 49 others" in the latest church flier or whatever. I find it amazingly meta and strange that the purveyors of the brain melting digital acid are creating content urging "go outside, talk to people in person, turn me off." Like intricate anti texting and driving billboards that require you to focus on the signage and not the road, the television shows about the dangers of television feel irresponsible? I'm called to a specific episode of Doctor Who called "The Wire" where televisions became sentient and brainwash British people during the Queen's golden jubiliee. Let's not forget the literal horror series, Black Mirror (Bandersnatch ruined me). Weird.

There was a time in American history when children were told not to sit too close to the television lest you get "square eyes. I'm still not sure if the sages who said these things meant your pupil or eyeball would reshape but either way

Welp the TVs are now in our pockets and often directly in front of our faces. They are our overlords. All hail the rectangles!

Unplugging is the way for man to beat the machine. It is a way to remember that we are the creators of the rectangles and can control the influence they wield over us. Like the episode of The Office when Ed Truck died and Michael wanted to make a memorial robot. Dwight, in a rare moment of being 100% rational, suggested it be only 3/4 the size of a standard human and have a power cord so it could be unplugged in the event of uprising. Smort.

Unplugging is the answer. All hail the unplugging. Blog over.

Sike! Some of us work on the internet. Our literal livelihood is feeding the void and obeying our rectangles.

On Sunday, March 3, my phone told me my screen time was down 2 hours that week (ayyeee!) but most was spent on “social networking” and a measly 3 hours spent on "productivity." The Fitbit app only saw me for 30 minutes and Covet Fashion for an hour so "productivity" should be thankful. Because I am an emotive black woman and I know all our rectanlges listen to us, I looked my rectangle right in it's depth sensing eye and exclaimed. "FACEBOOK POSTS PAY MY BILLS. YEAH I'M ON THAT HOE."

I've only ever been this frustrated when I unwrapped a Dove chocolate and my advice was to "#IgnoreHashtags" Such a pedantic piece of candy.

Truthfully, social media posts probably cover like 2/3 of my rent plus my monthly entertainment budget but still. I'm certainly not on them for my health. My intimate personal and professional knowledge of social media mechanics and trends is a major selling point when I pitch clients. I finally caved and made a Facebook Business page that I feel terrible about but, ya know, the cobbler's children have no shoes.

Being online and good at it is my job. I chose this. I fully believe being successful at my work relies on consuming content. I need to be in the trenches. How do I know how hard my hashtags hit if I'm not testing it on my pages? How am I supposed to stop?

Unplug.

Many of the things on which I have planted my flag, built my home, and sat my rump atop are true. I do need to be aware of current events, memes, zeitgeist, and et cetera. I also need to stop making excuses.

I don't have to aimlessly scroll for hours per day. I don't need to roll over with fresh crusty goo in my eyes and try to stretch my face so my rectangle knows it's me to see what was posted in the short 6 - 7 hours I was asleep. There's no reason I should feel a tug to be a social influencer and then experience some dejection over what sacrifices that would require. It is all completely unnecessary, even as a digital professional.

My issue runs deeper than just unplugging. I've been planing detoxes and ways to reclaim myself but in full transparent I-haven't-written-in-4-months honesty, I don't want to stop. I love it.

There is something very special about those nano-doses of dopamine from reactions and comments. The reward is even bigger when you outline your metrics and you hit or even surpass your goal. It's science. It's also likely that a lot of people who work in the digital world do so because they love it too.

We all are part of the problem. We also are the solution.

Unplug.

We are the cogs that keep the engine turning (sorry if these metaphors are weak y'all I know like 3 things about simple machines and engineering). We drive demand. We also have the power to impose boundaries even on the thing we love and spend so much of our life power mastering. We can love it from a distance. It's ok to unplug and take a few hours outside of your job to center yourself. I've started going to the park after job 1. I still might do an IG story but I am soaking up that sweet sweet vitamin D. I also hold lunch break dance parties. I am going to be brave and put on those timer limit things my rectangle wants me to use. My friends are also amazing and would never let me miss any good digital tea. That's the work around. Also, it is UNPAID. Being miserable for free is dumb. You deserve better, digital professional. If it don't make dollars, it don't make sense. Amirite? (I am)

I really didn't provide a profound answer here. Probably because I haven't written in a long time and I don't want to talk about it. Could also be that there probably isn't a clear solution. You are human and valuable beyond your digital prowess. You can't make those dollars with a head full of melted brain goo. Your rectangle knows best. Limit the screen time.

#unplugging #digitalprofessional #meditiation #lessons #screentime #socialmedia

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