Life by Screen
Even though time seems like it is moving slowly it also feels like the world is changing rapidly. With many people staying home or working from home, the focus has been on our screens. We are using our screens for work, entertainment, social communication, news, shopping, health related apps, school lessons, etc. In some cases usage has gone up by as much as 200 percent.
Sometimes I feel like I live through my screen more than I do real life.
There has been a question circulating on Facebook about who really is your friend on social media. If you take an honest look, how many people do you socialize with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in person with face-to-face encounters or with a phone call? Probably not very many. If you are working outside of the home (that expression sounds kind of funny), most likely you socialize with or are friends with your co-workers.
Does social media replace a cup of coffee shared with a friend at a café? I think not, but we are probably going to have to adjust.
I think society is desperate for meaningful friendships. Facebook makes it easier to connect with many people in different social circles and distant localities and our world is smaller because of it. Video chatting on mobile devices is also popular and on the new Rooms feature on Facebook Messenger you can arrange a Zoom-like call with your peeps. Zoom is used for business and classrooms and also for happy hour virtual gatherings or calls with family and friends. We have many options at our fingertips. Frankly, I am getting rather tired of screens, but they have become the norm in today’s society.
With the state of quarantining at home and socially distancing, I feel like we are being led to believe, through social and media channels, that video sharing applications will be the elixir that we need to combat loneliness. Even before the pandemic, there have been studies maintaining that more than two hours a day on social media by teens makes teens more lonely—not less lonely.
Friends vs. Acquaintances
Maybe we think the nearest screen is the answer to our yearning for human contact, but in fact, the human contact that we crave is being replaced by electronic stimuli and “pseudo” friendships. Our social connections are, more often than not, acquaintances that might not necessarily be the nurturing relationships we need. It takes time and effort to find a friend that provides the depth of friendship needed to deal with the intricacies of the human heart and with whom we can share our deepest authentic selves.
Perhaps I am being a little hard on the Facebook crowd, of which I am a part of, but I think it might be in one’s best interest to not look to the 500 or 1000 friends ( I have just over 100) on Facebook as a badge of honor—at least in terms of authentic friendship in the traditional sense. Consider yourself fortunate if you have two very close friends who you interact with in your day-to-day encounters.
More likely than not, the number of “friends” on social media are a social network, a way of staying connected in our different social circles or relying on a connection for a lead to employment or in the case of Zoom meetings, connecting with your class or classroom teacher or your work staff. I think that answers the Facebook question that is circulating. I’m betting most people are aware of the nature of social media. Still, it can sort of be like a competition to gain more and more connections.
Many people receive their news content from social media channels. My adult children have all but given up social media because it siphons precious time. I miss that they are not on Facebook so that we can share in photos of each other or ideas about certain things but I understand their need to manage time.
You’ve Got a Friend
I would say I am a lot like my mom in the department of making friends, where I can strike up a conversation with someone at the farmer’s market and feel a sense of kinship. By the way, my mother has made many “friends” because, most times, anyone that she talks to at church or the grocery store “becomes her friend.” I believe every moment (even on social media) is an opportunity to make a friend—at least for the moment, because—face it—it’s work to maintain a friendship. Thankfully, there are many ways to be a friend to someone.
Maybe it’s just me. I have used my Facetime feature on my phone to video chat with my family before and have been thankful for that feature. However, I do not use it all that much. Am I old-fashioned? Do I really need to see the person I am talking to? If I have not seen the person for a long time, I do like to see them but I don’t make it a rule to visually see them as we converse.
What I have noticed is even though I am on my screen more, I don’t really want to be. In writing content for my blog and social media posts, I also do create video postings. I feel OK with that but I think the new video chat room feature for communicating, at least for personal use, is something we will need to get used to, as the economy’s landscape, even if it opens soon, will be a stark cry from what it used to be.
Since we are spending more time looking at our computer, phone, or tablet screens our eyes can become really strained. Using the 20-20-20 rule can help to prevent this problem.
Every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Now, this doesn’t mean to look up from your computer screen to look at your TV screen when your home on your couch with your computer screen in your lap.
I will take it one step further and add that you should actually get up from where you are sitting for a small break while looking at something that is not screen-related. If that is not possible than the 20-20-20 rule should help with reducing eye strain and muscle tension. And even better than that, if you can, take a break from screens for a day or two.
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