By Ellen Nimmo
Ten and counting. That’s how long I’ve been without Wifi at home. That’s how long I’ve been without Netflix or Prime, how long I’ve been without endless scroll shopping and pacifying bedtime sitcoms sending me into tossful, dreamless sleep. Ten days.
But who’s counting, right?
This may be a bad time to bring it up, what with virtual school, work, entertainment, grocery shopping, and socializing being the waters we swim in these days, but, we can’t do screens 24/7, right? I mean, I thought that before, but certainly, after a few days of being without all my habitual screen-time I knew: my mind, my body, indeed my very soul craves time away from screens. Even if I don’t remember to know it until it is forced upon me. Make sense?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d very much like to see my internet back up and running. To that point, I’m home right now, waiting in some impatience for the link of the century to show up. Surly, they must know they’ve got us wrapped around their knotty, cabled fingers. We’ll put the whole world off to gain our screens back. Still, what happened when there was no connection to rely and feed upon was enough to make me want to share and see what you think. Could be that you already know much of this. Reckon I did too. Only not in practice.
I forgot to know what I claimed to believe. Can you dig it?
What happened after a few days (it really took that long) is, I stopped reaching for the useless remote and settled into the book that’s been collecting dust next to my bed for weeks instead. Imagine that! Without reruns to soothe me, I took time in the quiet of the house to process my day. I prayed. Not because things were falling apart (not any more than usual anyway), but because the opportunity seemed to have come and put its face right up next to mine. The hours and minutes begged for attention, they clamored for purpose of a different sort. Without the white noise of entertainment, the din of websites and caves of mindless scrolling I watched the wall instead. Literally. I watched a constellation unfold as shadows of leaves danced on the wall of my bedroom, the glow of evening settling my thoughts as they came and went like tourists in a foreign city. I sat outside. I stood at my kitchen sink; admired warm soapy messes. I chopped and sautéed, I tasted and stirred and sipped. I painted the back porch. I felt sunshine and soaked up visions of rosy clouds moved by some unseen gale. I heard the crickets and listened to the breeze. I watched my dog snore.
Before the Wifi went out, I would have claimed to know, but oh how I forget! As good as technology is, as much as it has enhanced the way I connect with friends and family, as much as it has made this season of uncertainty more productive and connected than it otherwise could have been, as much as it makes my life easier and more comfortable – I know that too much screen time just isn’t good for my being.
Even as I wait for the link of the century to be restored, I can’t help but wonder if we are missing another link altogether. One that comes out of stillness and silence.
That’s just some of what the past ten days have been like for me. Call me a hippylady if you want, I’ll take it as a compliment. But, what do you think about screen time? Is there a limit? Where do we draw those lines and why? For my part, I’ll be glad to have the internet back, but I hope I don’t forget to remember what I believe. Life seems to sparkle just a little deeper when I look up from the snare of the screen and enjoy the extraordinary, ordinary world that’s all around.