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Screens, screens, everywhere I go

By Staff | Jan 14, 2018

“Hi, I’m Chuck, and I am a screen-aholic,” I told the rest of the members at a recent Screen-aholics Anonymous meeting.

“Hello, Chuck,” they all replied, without ever looking up from their smart phones, which they were glued to, checking their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

OK, there really isn’t something called Screen-aholics Anonymous. Not yet, anyway.

But, lately I have become convinced that despite all my best efforts, I am, indeed, becoming a screen-aholic.

Some of it is job-related. As an editor, I sit in front of my computer screen way too many hours out of every work day. I write stories, check my hundreds of daily emails, save photos, and then layout some of the pages of the Faribault County Register, all on my computer.

Heck, I am writing this column about being a screen-aholic while staring at my computer screen wondering what to write next.

I do try and get up and wander around the Register office building every hour or so. And of course, I take breaks from the screen by getting more coffee, answering the phone, having staff meetings and, you know, bathroom breaks from all that coffee.

And I also get out and do interviews, cover meetings and take photos at events. That gets me away from the computer screen at least every once in a while.

Yet, there is a crazy amount of computer time involved with this job. Maybe there is with your job, too.

Then there is the personal time at home. More computer time, TV watching, checking the phone for more emails, and browsing around the Internet on my iPad.

To be honest, I have tried to limit myself from all this screen time. And it is a lot easier to do during the summer when I try to spend a lot of time outside. But in the winter? Not so much.

Although, I do read newspapers and books and work on other things around the house which don’t involve anything electronic with a screen.

I am old enough to remember a time we didn’t have a television yet, computers had not been invented, the phones were attached to the wall and the only screen time was Saturday afternoon at the movie matinee.

Now, there are screens everywhere I look. At work, at home and everywhere I go. And it is hard not to look at them.

I know I am not alone. I fear we are becoming a nation of screen-aholics. Especially our younger generation.

I was at a crowded airport gate waiting area recently, and everyone had their head bowed looking at the screen on their electronic device. Everyone except me, another old guy reading an actual book made of paper and a little kid roaming around looking at things and smiling at me. And, the kid’s mother, who was keeping an eye on him, and the old guy he was smiling at.

I heard Dr. Brittany Boettcher, of Blue Earth Valley Eye Clinic recently say that there is now an identified vision problem caused from too much screen time. It has to do with the blue light emitted from electronic screens. They have special glasses for screen-aholics like me to wear to prevent eye damage.

OK, so she didn’t use the term screen-aholic, but she could have. I haven’t yet trademarked or copyrighted it.

And then I heard local chiropractor Dr. Arron Kalis of OPS, tell how he is treating so many clients with stiff necks. And yes, he said it is caused from so much time with the head bent forward looking at a smart phone or other electronic device.

Constantly having your neck bent forward causes strain on the neck and upper spine, as it takes more effort to keep it in that position. It appears to weigh more than normal when in that position.

I get that stiff neck thing a lot.

So the solution for screen-aholicism is pretty simple. Unplug. But that is a lot easier said than done. Try it sometime. No screen time for a week. Even for one day. How about an hour?

Could you do it? Would you even want to do it?

If you do, I will try and let you know when my next Screen-aholics Anonymous meeting will be held.

Keep checking my Twitter and Facebook accounts on your smart phone for further details on when and where that next meeting will be.

Stay tuned.