There Is No App For This!
I was reading a book this morning and ignoring the TV that was being watched by a family member when something caught my unconscious attention and caused me to look up. What caught my attention was “There is no app for this!”.
It was an advertisement for the Florida Keys showing sunsets, strolling beach scenes, and water sports. For each scene, the commercial repeated the “there is no app for this” slogan. It ended with the plea to unplug and go for real experiences which are worth more.
That 30 second commercial beautifully captures what is wrong with much of what we don’t do anymore. We have our faces glued to some kind of screen instead of actually participating in joyful activities with other people. Incredibly in the U.S. where TV watching is the highest in the world, the last decade of TV technology improvement has resulted in a further increase of 15% in average daily TV time. In that same decade the amount of time spent staring at other, usually small screens, has exploded. That time comes from somewhere and it doesn’t come from school or work. It is being taken from time we could use to actually participate in something that would include being engaged with other people.
Participatory activity, like playing games or socializing with friends for example, takes an initial effort. You have to take some action like organizing and going somewhere and meeting up with people or you start thinking about the effort you will expend in the pickup game. Often times the default passivity of turning to a screen seems easier. However, research is showing that we enjoy participatory activity much more if we will actually just do it. The comfort of the screen is illusory.
Instead of spending endless passive hours staring at Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Live to Dance, or whatever else there is, why not actually do some dancing yourself? Instead of spending endless hours watching others play sports, why not play yourself? There are programs for every age and skill level. Instead of watching idiotic fake reality shows, why not engage with some real people in real ways?
When I was growing up we only had three TV channels and no Internet or any other gadgets that we find so irresistible these days. During daylight we played outside, and as a family we spent many evenings playing games. We had a billiards table and we could lay a ping pong table on top of it to play ping pong. We played board games, card games, and domino games. I’m quite certain that if I had had the Internet I would have been staring at a screen instead of slamming a ping pong ball ball past my brother or sister. I doubt I would remember the experience the same way though.
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