In yesterday’s first of this three part series I introduced the concept of what I call a screen buzz. It’s certainly not a new phenomenon, I simply gave it a funky name.
Today, let’s talk about its fit within the context of our electronically sophisticated society.
You know, I find it interesting that the 25 questions I posed yesterday are so congruent with the DSM-IV-TRs criteria for either a diagnosable substance abuse or dependence. Well, I suppose that makes sense, as the dynamics of abuse and dependence transcend substance.
But, as I mentioned in yesterday’s article, I am not quick to slap “disorder” on a circumstance or person – including myself. And, really, for our purposes it’s not at all necessary; because all we’re doing is very calmly throwing food for feeling and thought on the buffet.
What kind of reaction do you experience when you read this stat…
The average adult American spends 8.5 hours per day in front of a screen.
Jaw drop? Need some smelling salts? Well, let’s swirl things around a bit before we flip, okay?
We’d be making a huge mistake if we don’t, or can’t, accept that 8.5 hours within the context of the high-tech society in which we live.
News flash – screens are essential to our work, schooling, social functioning, recreation, and – yes – health.
Reality says we have laptops, desktop computers, video games, smartphones, and GPS devices – and the software that makes them fascinating and essential. But before we damn the electronics age, let’s remember before such devices and technology made the scene we had TVs, books, work, telephones, radios, turntables, 8 tracks (whoa, did I just date myself), cassettes, CDs, and porn periodicals. All of which we could abuse or depend upon.
So there’s always been that non-substance fix right at our very fingertips.
Absolutely, I am not concerned about the 8.5 hours per day the average American spends in front of a screen. What does, however, concern me is the potential for altered realities that screens bring to the table. Now, one could certainly make the same case for, say, a great book; however, it’s the sophistication of the technology driving our screens that’s such a huge differentiating factor.
Indeed, someone can become very quickly consumed and isolated within the security of their manufactured world.
And I believe a star within this altered reality constellation is the replacement of good old fashioned face-to-face human communication with interaction through screens. Don’t misunderstand, I think screen-facilitated socializing is a wonderful addition to one’s relationship portfolio. It’s only when it’s used as an exclusive that I see the potential for problems.
Look, let’s be brutally honest and objective here. Whether we like it or not, our society – our very culture – is changing the way in which it works, learns, socializes, and recreates. And one could actually make the case that a rejection of screens is its own dysfunctional manufactured world.
But back to the foundational issue here. Screens – like anything in life that can be overdone – may be harmful to us. Yes, when our involvement with them leads to interruption with personal, work, school, relational, or social functioning; it’s time to look for help. Simple enough.
Be sure to come back tomorrow as we put a wrap on the series, discussing what to do if a screen buzz has transitioned into abuse or dependence.
I wonder if anyone’s had a personal encounter with screen buzzing, abuse, or dependence. How ’bout sharing in a comment?