When today’s kids grow up, will they know how to Unplug and turn down the noise so that they can hear their own “Aha” ideas when they arrive? Health guru Archelle Georgiou thoughtfully pondered that question in her blog yesterday—along with her own need for down time.
Ironically, the ease and ubiquity of techno tools may be stifling our inner creativity. After all, do your most original Big Ideas come when you’re on-screen, in the shower, or enjoying a nap? Georgiou goes for showers and naps—and finds support from the likes of Deepak Chopra and an MIT professor.
No argument here. And that’s true whether searching for a profound thought or just some simple calm. But then, at this point in my life, screens often turn me off. And I honestly prefer rituals such as yoga, exercise, meditation (even better when it becomes a nap!), cooking, gardening, and hanging out with family.
Of course, “time with family” often leads to my having to compete for attention against various cool Apple offspring. And no, I’m rarely as fascinating. Who is? It’s certainly not the people or messages on the screen; they come and go like flakes of snow. Heck, kids even skip through song bits. Attention span: Mashed.
Meanwhile, conversations become increasingly fragmented. And quiet, creative rumination becomes an endangered endeavor.
That’s why, In My House, Unplugged time is programmed—rather like “quiet time” for toddlers. And there are guidelines about when and where tech toys are allowed—not at the table; not in the bathroom; not when someone is talking to you; not first thing in the morning or last thing before bed.
Sure, this Bad Cop often looks the other way, or issues a gentle warning when I might prefer locking all my housemates in a quiet, padded cell. Where they would be forced to talk. And think. And listen. And look at each other. And maybe invent a game, or discover a Big Idea that helps make the world a better place.
Out of desperation for a conversation with my cell-phone-fixated tweenager last night, I asked about the evolution of screen-ertainment for his posse: Millsbury; Club Penguin; Webkins; iChat; Facebook; texting. That’s all within the past few years.
So what’s next? Likely NOT Unplugging. So when Georgiou mentions the 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts we all have daily, methinks they’ll be increasingly about whatever our screens bring us—rather than the possible inspiration within and around us.
As Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor who studies social networking puts it:
If you’re being deluged by constant communication, the pressure to answer immediately is quite high. So if you’re in the middle of a thought, forget it.”
Hey, the silence around me just brought forth this Big Idea: 5 times a day, say, when you’re feeling “the pressure to answer” that deluge, forget it!
If the Real World isn’t interesting enough and fails to engage you or offer meaning, consider Georgiou’s idea, “I think I’ll go take a shower.”