Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kickin' It Old School


When Sicily was little, every summer on or around the last day of school, we would sit down and make a list titled "What To Do Instead Of Watching TV." The summer TV rule was no TV while the sun was up, an occasionally unendurable stretch of time with an only child and a limited budget. So we made a list, and when things got rough, we would consult the list and randomly select something.

Starting tomorrow and running at least through January, we may need to make a similar list. Every Sunday Sicily and I are going on a media blackout. In fact, if you are reading this on Sunday, it is only through the magic of Hootsuite because from waking to sleeping we will not be texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting, Tumblr-ing, or any of those other -ings that have nothing to do with living.

Even as we decided to give it a go I felt a flash of panic, a clear indication that this is an absolutely necessary experiment. The average American child sits in front of a screen of some kind (TV, computer, or video) for seven and a half hours a day; the average adult in the U.S. watches five and a half hours of TV daily. For kids, that's 114 days of screen time annually. For adults, it's 80 days lost to TV (other screens are not included because measuring work screen time is difficult, but suffice it to say that it would up the total significantly).

In layman's terms, that's a shitload of television and computer time.

I will speak only for myself and say that when I complain about not having much time to do anything, all I need to do is look to the number of times I check my Facebook or email, or dip into Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr. I believe we go online in part to feel connected to the world and the people around us, but then the exact opposite thing happens. We disconnect from what's around us to check in with people we don't know or who are four time zones away and sleeping. Or pretty boring, if we are being honest (which I always try to be).

As Sicily gets older (and more teenage-ier), it is more important to me that she knows that the most important thing that is happening is the thing that is happening right now, right where she is. There is nothing before that moment, and there may be nothing after that moment. The interwebs have this funny way of distorting time so that it speeds by, and I want her to lift up her head and look around. Technology is an amazing thing, and we won't be going Amish any time soon, but I want us to both get an important weekly break from the virtual world to step back into reality.

On Sundays we will go out into the city and explore, make some art at home, write freehand (which used to be my preferred method of work, a freehand first draft), read, visit friends in person, and anything else that doesn't involve electronics.

The rules:

  • No texting or social media. No exceptions.

  • Music on phones is okay, but no surfing. Throw it on shuffle and listen to what plays.

  • Exceptions will be made for Sunday Seahawks games. Fortunately, the first playoff game is on a Saturday, but after that, the rule will be relaxed for football only.

  • If you need to talk to us, call. We will answer.

Pretty simple. Kickin' it old school. See you on Monday...


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