As I have gotten older, I have realized that the word “entertainment” shares a very close relationship with the word “distraction”. Now for some, this isn’t a big deal. Entertainment is simply that, entertainment. But for me, I have discovered a significant correlation between the entertainment medium and the probably of me becoming very distracted by it. TV, for example, does not lure me in. I can watch a 20 minute TV show, a movie, or a game, and I can turn away from it at any time. I am also far less likely to lose track of time while watching TV.
My phone, however, can easily hypnotize me for 20-30 minutes at a time, sometimes even more. This is where things become pathological for me. Not only am I losing track of time while I am on my phone, I am typically looking up things that I either don’t have, or can’t afford. What outcome can be expected from this, other than discontentment and boredom? Now, being a mom to a busy two year old has greatly restricted my habit of letting my brain melt down on a screen, and that is a very good thing. I am very careful to prioritize him over my phone. It is only used for FaceTime, occasional texts, and phone calls in his presence. That’s not to say that we are perfect every time, but that is what our family strives for. We don’t want our kiddo to grow up thinking he is less important than whatever is on our screens.
Fighting the desire to get lost in a screen has been a battle for the last few years, as I’m sure it is for most people. The endless supply of images, inspiration, designs, new editions, etc. are perfect fodder for a consumerism driven society. We are distracted by our need for things, and it is a desire that is never fully satiated. We all know this, and yet it feels nearly impossible to stop. In an effort to pump the brakes on my own comparison driven, out of control consumerism, I hopped off social media. It wasn’t in a dramatic “I’m going away for a while, so text me if you need me” type of way. I just decided to not go on Facebook or Instagram for a bit, and it’s been a good thing. Sure, I miss out on seeing some of the events that happen in the lives of family and friends, but if it is important enough, I will find out about it.
Being off social media for the last few months has increased my awareness of the need to be active in my relationships. It is so easy to just scroll and get updated on other people’s lives without actually investing in the relationship. Active communication is so much better than just passively observing. This small personal change has also insulated me from a decent amount of negativity, especially during the coronavirus response. A lot of social media content is either complaining or criticizing, and I am enjoying the distance from this type of thing. Undoubtedly, I am seeing the value in creating space from the online world that I am so easily drawn into.
TV, movies, music, podcasts, and a bunch of other types of entertainment are meant to be enjoyed collectively or individually. Phone usage, however, is best done individually. It becomes a world where we only do what we want to do. There is no compromising, no agreement over what channel to watch, and no absolute governor to limit our time there. Basically, the whole infrastructure is designed for the user to become totally engrossed, and it accomplishes this task with great efficiency.
Technology has made our life better in so many ways, but it has greatly complicated it too. We have to draw boundaries from things that other generations never had to. We are always available, constantly distracted, and completely inundated with information. That unending stimulation doesn’t lead anywhere good. A simple google search on distracted driving will support this claim.
Drawing a line in the sand with my screen time has been very positive, and it got me wondering why I am so susceptible to losing time and energy to my screens, and why I allow that to happen. Being a person with an addictive personality and OCD tendencies, I should know better than to flirt with something that is so enticing. And yet, I do. It’s a constant battle between spending time online to get what I need, but to not stay too long.
The older I get, the more I realize the importance of this battle. I don’t want to be seventy years old and regret the time that I spent being distracted from my own life. Each phase of life has its own challenges, and its own blessings. I really don’t want to miss any of it, and that requires me to continue to battle against the temptation to be distracted. Entertainment is one thing, but for me, it quickly escalates into a distraction. God gave each one of us quirks and idiosyncrasies, and the ability to be very easily distracted is just part of what makes me, me.
The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, I have found that I need to be very selective with what I consider entertainment. A quick browse through Pinterest while filling a few minutes of time is fine. However, that becomes a very slippery slope. Reading a book, calling a friend, doing a house project, or even watching a TV show are much better uses of my time.
I am much more responsible with my most valuable asset when I choose to indulge in actual entertainment, instead of allowing myself to be mindlessly distracted