When is the last time you were bored because you had nothing to do? You may have to go back to your childhood. According to statistics, we look at the phone between 200 and 350 times a day, up to once every four minutes while we are awake. In our hands we have an inexhaustible source of information, news and stimulation, which has turned boredom into an impossibility.
Access to smartphones connected to the Internet reaches the majority of humanity. Statistics indicate that eight out of ten human beings have a smartphone, with regional variations ranging from 95% of adults in South Korea to 25% in India.
Our species didn’t evolve to spend all day staring at a little glowing box, and it’s no wonder this behavior is having pernicious effects. One of the best known is doomscrolling, or the fondness for watching negative or outrageous news on social networks, something that the networks themselves reinforce through their algorithms, which select increasingly terrifying and outrageous news.
In general, excessive use of mobile phones has been associated with memory leaks and sleep disturbances, both due to brain activation and the incidence of blue light from the screen on melatonin. In addition, the use of mobile phones is also related to social anxiety and the tendency to distrust from other persons. It has also been proven that they are used as a resource for distract yourself instead of exercising emotional self-regulation, one of the basic cognitive skills to live in society. And if that was not enough, they make us more impulsive and make us think less about decisions, and even produce changes in posture and gait when walking.
The Bible says in the book of Genesis that on the seventh day God finished what he had done, rested and blessed the seventh day and declared it a holy day. In Orthodox Jewish culture this is scrupulously observed, and there is one day a week, the Sabbath, which corresponds to Saturday, on which even simple tasks such as sweeping or cooking are prohibited.
The technological sabbat or “Tech Shabbat” is a term coined in 2010 by the marriage formed by Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg, she, film and documentary director and founder of the Webby awards for the best Internet pages. He, an engineering professor at Berkeley specializing in robots and an artist.
Shlain presented the idea of the weekly disconnect after participating in the national unplug day, a sponsored event advocating going tech-free for one day a year in early March. He also talks about this concept in his 2011 documentary “Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death, & Technology”. She herself began to disconnect the cell phone when her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, to be present in her moments of lucidity. From then on it became a weekly ritual for her family.
Tiffany Shlain explains in her book “24/6” how to proceed with the weekly disconnection: all screens are turned off for twenty-four hours, for example, from Friday night to Saturday night. This includes any device with a screen: mobile phones, tablets, computers or televisions.
Making screens disappear from our environment can cause a feeling of emptiness and even anxiety at first. Shlain suggests programming activities that fill that void and that allow us to establish a different relationship with the environment and the people around us. Suggested activities include reading, going for walks, visiting new neighborhoods, museums or attractions, outdoor activities, and using pencil and paper.
Those who practice the ritual of weekly disconnection, say they have improved relationships with their partners and families, experience a reduction in stress levels and impulsivity and, in general, greater satisfaction with their lives. Do you find it very difficult? Some companies are selling safes with a timer so that you cannot access your mobile during the indicated time. Radical, but effective.