Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Empower Yourself! Try Screen-free/Reduction This Week!

A FaceBook comment recently made me aware of the irony of writing about Screen-Free week on a screen!  Should have thought of it earlier, but it does make me smile!  Obviously, I am not screen-free, but I have made a personal commitment to being screen-free this week.  No personal FaceBook time.  No games on the iPad.  No movies.  No online TV.  Just email and business screen time.

Screen-Free Week is April 30th-May 6th, so if you've missed a few days, why not start now?  Of course, finish reading first!  Screen-Free began as TV-Free and now, of course, with the additional media we are exposed to, the need to expand is obvious.  Screens equate to TV, video games, computers and hand held devices.  It can't hurt to experiment with giving up some screen time, right?  You might learn something, engage in something, finish something you would not have otherwise had time for.

The initial impetus was to give us a break from marketing.  I gave up my TV almost a year ago and despite my access to online shows and information, my exposure to commercials is way down.  I don't know if there is an effect I can specifically pinpoint, but I am surely less affected by and aware of trends, fads, and useless products, not to mention ridiculous political media (from ALL parties).  I have had to make huge adjustments and decisions, some of which I have not yet made, as to where I get my information, what information I actually want, and who I trust.

This is really powerful.  I choose what my brain is exposed to.  Big deal?  It is!  This may seem like I am going off the deep end into paranoid territory, but it is absolute fact that the advertisers and marketers in this country have long used whatever they can to understand how to make us want what they are selling. And now, they have started to utilize the new burgeoning field of neuroscience, and not for the greater good.  In the past they just put a bunch of folks in a room, shared samples of the product or the advertisement and asked for reactions.  Now, they are using the science of the brain to really understand what lights up and what doesn't in the brain, according to media stimuli.  Then, what that equates to as far as purchasing power comes next.  If part of the brain lights up when exposed to this ad, does it mean you will buy?  They are deeply investing in this science.

We think, in this country, that we have this free will thing going on and aren't being manipulated by such external forces.  Hate to break it to you, but we are neurologically set up to pay very close attention to certain things such as social rules, sensory input, certain emotions, and more.  We CAN'T ignore these things and we often do not know that our brains are paying attention and making connections and many, many times making unconscious decisions, especially regarding preferences.  Our children are even more at risk.  How is it that millions of children every year want the same toy for holidays and birthdays?  I won't even call this media influence.  This is very direct manipulation and it runs our economic system. 

I don't want to get into the politics and values of our economic system, but I do want to encourage you to explore these issues.  Find out what you are allowing yourself, your children, your friends and others to be exposed to consciously, what are you buying into or literally buying without much thought to how you were influenced in that direction?

You probably thought this blog was going to be about the effects of the screen on your eyes, the exposure to electro-magnetic fields in the devices we are close to, maybe even the effects of all these screens going into landfills.  Yup, please pay attention to the research that is continually coming out on these topics, because they are very real.  Try sources that are less mainstream, because it seems to take longer for information to be big enough or extreme enough for big media to pick it up. By the time we see it, it is often simplified and blown out of proportion. Find sources you trust, specialized sources that are constantly looking for information on the issues, and local sources that seem to have your best interests at heart.  Not easy to do, but empowering!

How will you reduce screen time this week?

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