Electronic Jitterbug Angst

How did we go from being fire-craving nomads to being couch potatoes triple-wired for sound and blinded with electricity? How did we go from an atavistic fear of the dark to a mind-numbing immersion in popping screens and blinking cursors? What is this explosion of gaga-data, this outburst of deafening distractions, costing us?

And what will it take to bring us back?

Our modern-day addiction to screens, monitors, hand-held devices, phones, pads, pods, ad nauseam — and the electric light they emit — has contributed to a racing surge in symptomatology. Our children cannot concentrate, low-level anxiety and dread are exploding, even our ability to think in complete sentences seems to be morphing into “txt-tlk.”

And yet it is really quite simple.

Our neurons are message-carrying devices. They need a target, a receptor. They need to know their message has been received. Input/output, sender/receptor, the message circuit is complete. Constant input from multiple screens and devices creates neuronal chaos. With no time to send an outgoing message before another input is received, our neurons get short-circuited – they never land.. Fizzle-pop-… scatter-shot…what was I thinking?  What did you just say? What am I supposed to be doing?

This constant feed of irrelevant data, it’s like junk food. It doesn’t nourish or renew us, it just amps us up, chronically distracts and burns us out. All the shiny pretty things, they don’t bring us back to our self, they don’t help us write poetry or create art; they don’t bring us peace…

When was the last time you unplugged all your incoming devices, turned off the lights and gazed into a (real, not electric or gas) fire? Or had an evening of candle-light, soft music, and tea? Or better yet, got away from the city lights and remembered what stars look like? Is it really that hard?

Come home to the dark. Stroll by the lake at night. Watch the moon rise and the stars set. Get away from the buzz. Find out what the night birds know: how much freedom, and peace, and space there is when the lights go out.

Take your children with you. Stay as long as you like … until you forget everything else, except this very moment, Here, and Now.


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The mind of the day draws no attention to it;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words
Drawing us to listen inward and outward

John O'Donohue, from The Inner History of a Day