Throughout my lifetime, there have been watershed moments in the growth of technology, media, and educational theory. I remember Sesame Street coming out in the 70s and the entire country being up in arms about shortening the attention spans of young children. I was just a teenager. I remember the disconnectedness of the short segments and how awful that initially felt. Would people get used to this? Well, they did. Remember the onset of 30 second commercials? How about 15? Video games were going to ruin us all. The smart phone has truly revolutionized the stream of information, immediate communication and how we all function in the world. Are we now harming babies by putting devices in their hands? I honestly can’t answer any of these questions, although I can certainly comment on the physical changes in people’s bodies that often bring people to me for Alexander Technique. Life continues to change and evolve, and we with it.
Deep inside, though, I truly believe that we are short-changing our human-ness, our connectedness on a much deeper level than texting, by the constant interference of devices. As a teacher of many things, I believe that there is no greater joy than the light of a smile from a child who knows they have been reached out to by an adult. Children so want to connect with us. Their development depends on it. It also depends on us being present to them, rather than wrapped up in a device. Do adults deserve an escape from the world occasionally? Of course – but not at the expense of the children. How can children learn coping skills, negotiation, learning to live with disappointment, the art of losing gracefully, and what love is like if there is always a device distracting someone? Children need fights over territory in the back seat of the car, and singing silly songs for hours as a family on long road trips. They don’t need hours of screen time so that the car is quiet for the parents.
Oh, my. I sit back and read what I just wrote. I realize I am struggling as I write this with a strong need to be judgmental. So, just now, I pause. I breathe. I allow my Alexander Technique skills to help me let go of the strong emotion that is gripping me here. I recognize that it is not for me to judge why people are using technology at any given time. My job is to be accepting, to meet people where they are, to ask questions that encourage people to examine their habitual behaviors. I listen. From this place of openness, not judgement, I learn many things. The world changes from a softer place, not from rigidity.
As I said in the beginning, I don’t have the answers. I do, however, have a lot of questions. If you’d like to explore some of your questions with me, come in for an Alexander lesson. The door is open.
What are some of your habits around technology?
What would a screen-free evening be like at your house?