When I was younger, decades back, Screen is what we looked forward to eagerly. The Screen was a tabloid dedicated to Bollywood stuff. Looking at the images of stars in the paper was a treat which we awaited. Naturally, we were keener about photos of the actresses, though Devanand was also a favourite. But this paper was never bought and brought at home in those days for obvious reasons! The publication now exists as a website!
Following the societal and technological changes, the meaning of the word screen has also changed. When we talk of the screen today, it is most of the time about cell phone screen and sometimes laptop or TV screen. But in an office scenario, it is mostly laptop and cell phone screen. The proliferation of cell phones in India has happened in the most unexpected way and speed. Now it is almost impossible to find someone who does not use a cell phone. A friend of mine has never used one, but that is another story.
Remaining away from screen has become a challenge in today’s society. In the office environment, laptop and for some people, cell phone usage is a must. So, in that case, the screen time needed for work cannot be changed. But for some, cell phone usage is not required during work. Once the formal requirement of screen time is fixed, it can be decided how much more time one should spend with the screen. There are many reasons to control this time. Some are obvious reasons, and others are not so obvious. Social scientists say that screen is the latest cigarette! That one should try and remain away from addictive items seems natural. The main reason for this is to retain your focus. We tend to use the cell phone like a cigarette and just pick it up to see that elusive email, or a text or WhatsApp message. We simply don’t know when we start using it, indicating addiction. We need to find out how much non-essential screen time we give to ourselves.
When we mindlessly pick up that device, we fracture our attention; and some studies say that the time between switching from your laptop and cell phone and back can waste 20 % of your productive time. There may be a lot of dialogue about multi–tasking, but in real life, there is a wastage of productive time when we are so-called multitasking. In multitasking, it is assumed that we are handling two or more work activities, but when the cell phone screen is not a work activity, then we can imagine the wastage of productive time.
There are apps available these days, which track your screen time. Based on the data captured, you can decide how to cut down on screen time. The first and foremost is the notifications settings. Whenever we get a new cell phone, we have default apps. Based on our requirement (and sometimes because someone else said it is good), we install more apps, then more and more apps. Initially, do the audit of the apps you have if you really use them. Uninstall those which you do not need. Some apps may be like your comfort or binge food; delete these apps. As we start using the phone, we see that we start getting a lot of notifications because their default setting is always on. Personally, for me, the calls I receive are critical. Other than the missed call notification, probably my banking app notifications are essential. The important aspect is don’t receive a “ding” with each notification or flashing notification. Keep notifications silent. The correct audit will help and reset will help you in getting the least distracted!
Track your screen time with the apps. Set yourself realistic goals to reduce usage. Keep track whether you are reducing the usage time. If not, try and analyse why it is not happening? One more thing you can try is, do not let the cell phone become your appendage. What most of us do these days is to carry our phone to bed, dinner table, to the washroom. Where ever we go, we take it as if it is an oxygen cylinder needed for us to breathe. We feel that we may choke if we do not have our cell phone near us. Keep the phone in another room; in the office keep it in your bag if you do not need the phone for work.
In the bedroom, you need to see the time when you get up to go to the washroom. Get yourself a clock and keep your phone in another room. Real phone addiction started with the Blackberry phone with Corporate email application. In those days getting email on the cell phone was a novelty. The honchos would get up at night to do their thing and then keep on going through emails and replying them. Initially, it was fancy to have a Blackberry, but once its novelty wore off, people realised the folly of checking and responding to emails at 3 am!
To remain away from cell phones, try the detox method which you follow for any addiction. People follow different approaches. For smoking addiction, people don’t smoke at home. Since one is at home for a long time, smoking can be reduced. For the alcohol issue, some have tried a method of taking alcohol only when one travels abroad. It naturally controls alcohol drinking.
There is one more thing one can try out. Try doing nothing. Doing nothing is not as simple as it sounds or looks. When you do nothing means you don’t do anything. Sit and look at the trees, birds or sky! Look at nature. When you attempt to do nothing, it can become tricky. We are not used to doing nothing. It is possible that we will become jittery and try to look for the cell phone to play around. (That is withdrawal symptom for you!) It is what we are trying NOT to do in the first place. Once you overcome basic inhibitions, you may need to acquire the habit of painting, which you have forgotten. You loved to listen to songs. You went for walks, or you went for a swim. Doing nothing is a starting point of reinventing yourself. Let us not forget that we used to live an active physical life. You were once a voracious reader too.
What is the cell phone for you? Is it your friend or a foe? Do you have a love/hate relationship? Is it more love or hate? What I mean by love is that at any smallest of the opportunity you grab it.
Friends, don’t waste time looking at the screen! During my younger days, looking at the screen was the need of the hour. We could barely see our favourite actress’s photos; watching movies was even rarer! But today’s screens are a sheer waste of time if we use it beyond a particular time. The younger generation has more difficulty controlling the screen with hundreds of computer games available.
Lest you have forgotten, trees are still green, birds tweet even today! (The word tweeter has come from this tweet). The sky is still blue, and rain and rainbows are still around. Go ahead and chuck your screen time and have fun! You always did this only 15/20 years backs. I am not the anti screen person. These are technological marvels. But we don’t use them well. We have a WhatsApp group of college mates where we don’t allow forwards. We have so much fun discussing current topics (all non-controversial, of course), e.g. politics/religion and so on are banned. Last several weeks there has been a great discussion going on discussing the World Cup Cricket matches. We got the feel as if we are back to our hostels! There were opinions, suggestions and fights! It was our Adda!
Have fun! Use the technology correctly and enjoy! Don’t become its slave!