LESS SCREENS=MORE FOCUS.
When I turned 18 (and began my 19th year of life… #maths!) I was pretty into video games, computers, and television. I idled away plenty of hours with binge watching Smallville DVDs, dying and respawning a lot as people much better than me at Halo laughed with glee, and burning mix CDs like they were currency. By the time I got to college at Utah State, however, I made friends and hardly ever played my Playstation or watched any television. (This may be primarily the result of the adjacency of the television and the kitchen–where my Russian roommate and his Lithuanian girlfriend often camped out… possibly just to talk about me in Russian … and cook meat. Dmitri LOVED eating lots of meat.) This reduction in tv and game time set me up well for the technological deprivation that one endures when serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Early on, I really missed the accessibility of music, movies, and television. It’s tough to listen to the same few MoTab albums interspersed with some random 90’s synthesizer-style EFY tunes on repeat. (Especially when you’re used to burning dozens of new slow and pensive alt rock and folk tunes in varying arrangements to stacks and stacks of CDs.) As a missionary I didn’t participate in the digital world, save for some emailing home.
Two years of this… led me to some fascinating observations into how I had been changed.
The General Conference of the church is a two day event every six months. It consists of five two-hour long sessions in which half a dozen or so church leaders all speak in succession with a few hymns interjecting.
It can be tough to really pay attention. However, no tv, games, or music for such a long period of my life made me completely capable of paying attention to almost every word of every session.
The lesson… less media… more attention span.
This, as it turns out, is a lesson I could very desperately use learning again.
I just caught myself looking at Facebook on my phone… while a TV show was playing… while my laptop sat open on my lap… displaying… Facebook.