The universal problem of distraction
Andy Crouch says there’s a way back from from our dependence on our devices.
Andy Crouch answers the question: “After lockdown I feel even more addicted to screens than before. Is there any way back from where we are right now?“
- What is your initial reaction to the video?
- Did the Covid lockdowns change how much you use technology? Do you feel more addicted to your devices since lockdown?
- Have you ever taken a break from technology, and if so, did you experience the stages that Andy describes?
- Watch Mark Stephens’ short video reflection ‘Appreciating the abundance of the ordinary’.
- How does what Mark says relate to the video from Andy?
- What is your reaction to this quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem Aurora Leigh that Mark references? What do you think she means by this?
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
- How could spending less time on your devices help you to appreciate ‘the abundance of the ordinary’?
- Create an infographic with the title ‘How to break screen addiction – and the benefits of doing so’.
The great, great news about being human comes with a long word: neuroplasticity. So your brain is made of neurons that wire themselves together in response to certain stimuli to handle the environment you’re in. But those neurons that are wired together can be rewired. And our brains are actually amazingly rewireable. Now there are depths of rewiring – this comes with things like what we call addiction – that are pretty hard to undo, but they can be undone. And the good news is that screens are not addictive in the way that substances are. If you find yourself addicted to a substance you’re going to need some serious help from other people and from people who are real professionals. But I think our dependence on our devices is actually, fortunately, at a more superficial level. So we may feel very, very addicted to the screen – the good news is, within weeks, you can start to have a different relationship with your screen. And basically what it involves is a pretty tough period of withdrawal – you’ve got to set it aside, and you may need to go cold turkey for a few days. And the first third of that will be hell on earth – you’ll feel so bad, you’ll feel so anxious, so angry, all kinds of emotions that you haven’t felt will come up. Then there will be about a third of the time that frankly feels just kind of empty, you don’t know what to do with yourself, bored and confused. And then the last third is rediscovery of what you really love to do, the people you really love and trust to be with. And you probably are going to need a bit of time to rewire, but we all can rewire. This is the great, great thing about the human brain and mind – it’s not too late. But you do have to go through hell on earth to get to the other side of rediscovering who you really are.