Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Days 12-14 of No T.V.

Saturday (Day 12) went swimmingly. We kept ourselves busy with chores that needed catching up on and getting the Christmas boxes down to pack--yes, we're that late. Didn't end up packing them away and instead did quite a bit of laundry. Now the bins are taking over my kitchen but we all smell clean. Nothing really to speak of concerning t.v.--just seemed to fade into the background.

Sunday (Day 13) was easy to stay away from the t.v., but I've noticed something emerging in it's place. I'm now entertaining myself with long articles on various subjects through my iPad. It's not important stuff I'm reading, either. It's entertainment on the screen, just the same, and I've been eating it up the last day or two. Time to put those away as well. The point of this was to experience life away from all the entertaining distractions and to connect with real people. Those articles, though not t.v. were just as effective in cutting me off from wanting to engage with the faces of friends and family in the very same room. Why do I feel I need this stuff? 

Interestingly, we did "watch" a little t.v. today--although I wouldn't count it as entertaining. We went to see a friend and a hunting show was on. It was of no interest to me so it wasn't a problem. It's interesting though, that some t.v. doesn't have the pull that I'm trying to get away from and some other distractions, like articles online, do.

Monday (Day 14) was the worst day of this experiment so far. I played this high-graphics game on my iPad that was extremely engaging and so difficult to quit that I stayed on an hour past my two hour weekly limit of screen time. It's the first day of the week, people! And I'm already an hour past my time. So that's out as well as entertainment-only articles. Ugh! What is this pull that these things have over me??

During the game, though, something became clear that kinda gave me a personal epiphany (am I using that word right?). Anyway. While engaged with the game and for some time afterward, I felt a deep sense of loneliness. I've been feeling this deep sense of loneliness for years and just thought it was my hermit like qualities. But during the game it became clear to me that I hadn't been feeling that way in a week or so! I haven't changed any other habits at all, and my deep feelings of loneliness are fading.

This got me thinking about the act of engaging with another person. Face to face, eye to eye, skin to skin contact kind of engagement. That's been going on this whole time with my family. The kids sit right up against me while they practice reading, we look back and forth eye to eye while discussing what's happening in the bible passage, and Josh and I are face to face while discussing what happened at work that day. I'm the kind of person that thinks very little of this kind of thing. If the person isn't talking about something I'm interested in learning I don't engage. I listen for clues on subject matter or importance and engage only when my "alarm" goes off to certain things. I'm very socially tuned out and feel bored easily among peers. It's not uncommon for me to look past the person talking and study the interesting pattern emerging from the wall behind them. But, without it making sense to me, this act of engagement in the past couple of weeks by forcing my attention off the t.v. and screens by forbidding myself, has produced a mysterious relational improvement. I feel less lonely. I can't logically explain it--I just know my experience is that I don't feel so deeply lonely.

Knowing these things and experiencing them are very different. I know that other people like eye to eye contact and discussing useless information, but I've never understood it before. Rather, it annoyed me. I was happy to give my kids the lap holding, listening to silly conversations and stuff, because well, they're children. It's understandable that they wouldn't have the maturity for deeper conversation. But the past few weeks I'm beginning to engage out of interest rather than obligation. Why? I don't know.

I have a small theory. I have a severely hard time focusing on more than one thing at a time. When the t.v.'s on, it gets my entire focus because it contains a facade of importance. A murder mystery, an escape from the enemy, a problem to be solved are in real life all very important. But, I think this facade of importance is pulling at me to engage with it rather than the people standing in the same room wanting to talk about traffic or the cool thing a toy can do. Maybe...just maybe, my brain can't make the distinction between fake importance and real small matters. Maybe my brain is placing the escape from an enemy that's merely visual above the reality of a solution to a Lego puzzle and not reevaluating quickly and reordering the importance of real over fake. In that way, the t.v. is becoming more important on a regular basis than the people in my life that are of real and true value. Just a theory.

Sorry this one was sooooo long. I tend to work out thoughts through writing and since this is literally my journal for this month, it took a while to work it out.


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