Beat the battle of screen fatigue


Beat the battle of screen fatigue

Yesterday, my fiancé and I played checkers. The board game equivalent of vanilla ice cream. There was some decent trash talk, one triple jump, and some relatively anti-climatic endings but the experience on the whole was undeniably pleasant. My brain had to be somewhat switched on and the simplicity of the game was almost therapeutic. After two titillating bouts we called it at one apiece. Why am I telling you this? Well, prior to yesterday the last time I’d played checkers was probably around 2008 with my grandfather. So what is it about this time, when the future’s murky and the world seemingly spouts a new unpluggable leak every day, that prompted me to play a board game I hadn’t touched in over a decade? 

My first instinct when forced to stay at home was to consume as much content as humanly possible. Stream every show, watch every Instagram story, download time-sucking mobile games. While this was no doubt an effective way to pass the days, it left me and many others with crippling screen fatigue. Computer to phone to TV. Wash, rinse, repeat. Only this process was anything but cleansing and my mind became so inundated with useless crap that an unshakeable numbness began to set in. I wasn’t being challenged or stimulated by new people or experiences and instead was drowning in the “need” to be occupied. 

Technological advancements have given us so much in the way of content consumption. There’s literally nothing you can’t watch (except HBO Max if you have a Roku). At this point, I’ve binged enough hours of Love Island UK that I find myself calling my guy friends “lads” and judge people based on how good their “banter” is. It’s moderation. But when the wheel of  time and routine was harpooned by Covid-19, screen time reports (please stop, Apple) went skyrocketing. I realized it was time for a change when I attempted to gaze upon nature as my ancestors had only to have my eyes unable to comprehend a real live tree. Uh...that wasn’t shot in 4k. 

Now, back to checkers. When the screen/content overload had fully set in, I unplugged, took a breath, and tried to think of something to do. I mean what did people do before phones, laptops, and streaming apps? Hold to appreciate how disgustingly millennial that question was. OK, we can continue. The answer to my uniquely 2020 quandary lay in childhood hobbies. I wasn’t streaming campy British reality shows or skipping past 24-slide Insta birthday stories when I was a youngin. I was playing board games with friends, building Legos, doing jigsaw puzzles, exercising, drawing in coloring books, throwing rocks at inanimate objects, wetting the get the gist. 

Since my conscious effort to cut down screen time, I have revisited all those aforementioned hobbies (sans bedwetting) in some capacity. And you know what? It’s been awesome. Taking the occasional breather from screens and finding new/old ways to stimulate myself has cleared my mind and improved my mood. I found that just because something is considered a “thing of past” doesn’t mean it’s lost all of its value. And when time seemed to stop I found myself going back in time to find something to do -- seeking out the nostalgic comfort that could only be provided by something as simple as a game of checkers. So, if you find yourself in desperate need of a screen hiatus, don’t Google “things to do in quarantine,” instead, simply search through the old memory bank and tackle a hobby from a simpler time. 

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