Tildes Screenless Day Discussion Thread - April 2021
Note: I'm posting this a day earlier than planned, just in case anyone forgot it was coming up and needed a bit more advance notice.
EDIT: I am just now realizing the unfortunate coincidence of posting this thread when I did. This is NOT an April Fools’ joke, I promise!
What is a "Screenless Day"?
Tildes "Screenless Day" is a simple event aimed at encouraging people to take a temporary step away from toxic or consuming aspects of technology and spend their time and energies elsewhere.
When is it?
It takes place over the weekend starting on the first Friday of each month. Participants will choose that Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to take as their screenless day -- whichever works best for their schedule.
Some people might not be able to participate in that window, and that's fine too. They can choose to shift their day earlier or later as needed. It is also completely fine (and encouraged!) to take personal screenless days separate from the event if you like. This thread will be posted the first weekend of each month, but it is open for comments the entire month.
Does it have to be truly "screenless"?
"Screenless" is an ideal, not a mandate. The spirit of the day is to deliberately step away from toxic or consuming aspects of technology, and what that means is different for each person. Thus, it is up to each participant to determine what "screenless" means to them. Some might only choose to not use social media for a day; some might choose to eliminate all "screens" but still use their ereader; some may maintain some screen use but only for necessity (e.g. work; classes; GPS; etc.). Some might get rid of screens entirely, or go fully "unplugged" for the day.
How do I participate?
You do not have to do anything formal at all to participate -- simply take your screenless day in whatever way is best for you! That said, I think it's more enjoyable and valuable to make this a shared experience, so the structured way to participate, for anyone interested, is as follows:
STEP ONE: Before you take your day, post a top-level comment in this thread detailing your plan for your screenless day.
Consider the following questions:
- Why do you want to take a screenless day?
- How are you personally defining "screenless"?
- What do you plan to do with your time?
- What do you hope to get out of it?
To have your plan stand out from normal conversation, please use the
# markdown to title your post "[yourusername's] Screenless Day Plan"
STEP TWO: Take your screenless day.
- In the spirit of the event, you should probably not be reading or posting to this topic at all that day. To each their own, however. :)
STEP THREE: After it is over, return to the thread to reflect on your screenless day.
Post a response to your original comment in which you tell us all about your day.
- What did you do?
- How did it feel?
- Was it difficult? Easy?
- Did anything surprise you?
- Were there any unexpected challenges/breakthroughs?
- If you plan to do it again, what would you change? What would you keep the same?
To have your follow-up stand out from normal conversation, please use the
# markdown to title your post "[yourusername's] Screenless Day Reflection"
Can I chat in this thread if I'm not participating?
Yes! The more, the merrier! Discussion from anyone, participant or non-participant alike, is welcome. Though, do understand that it might take a bit longer than normal for some people to respond. :)
kfwyre's Screenless Day Plan
I'm going to shoot for making my screenless day Friday, though there is some personal life stuff going on that might cause me to have to push it to Saturday. Either way, it'll be one of the two, as I'm committed to doing this.
"Screenless" to me is going to mean not using my computer or phone. No videogames either (and I'm not a huge TV/movie watcher, so that's already out). Ereaders are fine, and I actually plan to spend a large part of my day reading, though I'm going to prioritize physical books since this is the first screenless day and it feels more in the spirit of things. I'm also going to allow myself to use my phone ONLY for music, since I don't have a non-screen-based way to play it, and I really want to just lie down and focus on some albums with no distractions.
I also plan to write some, which is actually going to be hard for me, as I type way better than I write. I haven't sat down and written on paper in a long while, so I'm curious to see how it feels and how long I can go before my hand cramps.
I'm also probably going to just chill with my dog and play board games with my husband for a chunk of the day as well.
Ultimately, I'm hoping to get a sense of disconnectedness out of it. Every year (barring this past one), I fly back to my family in my home state for Christmas. Every year, I get onto the plane, put my phone into airplane mode, and then sit down with my ereader. I then spend the entire duration of the flight fully immersed in a book -- with no distractions to check for even if I wanted to (I'm not paying the $15 or whatever it is for WiFi on the flight). It always feels so refreshing -- so separate from my normal experience. I feel like I'm cut off from everything in a good way.
When I try to read at home, however, it never sticks. I'm always stopping. Always interrupting myself. Always letting my mind wander to everything but the words in front of me. I want to get a book off the ground, to let it spend some time at cruising altitude, but from within my own home. I want that "phone in airplane mode" feeling, but in my own house. Coincidentally, putting my phone in airplane mode is probably one of the techniques I'm going to use to get through the day. :)
kfwyre’s Screenless Day Reflection
The first thing I noticed was that I definitely have a compulsion where I open my phone habitually and idly at a moment’s notice. At the beginning of the day especially, in any moment of downtime (waiting for the water to boil so I could brew my coffee, for example), I could outright feel my brain telling my arm to unlock my phone, and I had to actively resist the mental nudge.
The second thing I noticed was that I seemed to have a lot more time. The day felt long. This was a good thing — Friday was a day off work for me, and I felt like I got full enjoyment and use out of it, rather than it being over in a flash and a mere blip on the radar.
The third thing I noticed was that I could sit down and read like I used to. I made it 100+ pages into two different books, and finished a third that had been sitting there on my nightstand, mostly read, for weeks now. It took me maybe 20 minutes to finish, but that was 20 minutes that always got taken up by my phone.
The fourth thing I noticed was that I felt much more disconnected, which is exactly what I wanted. The internet has a way of putting other people’s things in our lives, and this is sometimes amazing and sometimes awful. I think a lot of what I do online amounts to little more than attentional clutter, and I didn’t have any of that yesterday. It felt like it was just me, my husband, and my dog, and I felt wonderfully homey, cozy, and close to them. It was a beautifully uncluttered day.
Overall, my experience wasn’t life-changing or anything (nor did I expect it to be), but it did affirm what I’ve long suspected: my phone and computer are attentional vampires, and I need to find a way to not constantly let them in. I’m definitely going to participate again next month, but I also think I’m going to start incorporating deliberate blocks of screenless time into my week, especially so I can make quality time for reading. I can’t tell you the last time I sat down and read 100 pages in a book — much less more than one — and I used to be able to do that easily.
I don't know if this would help but for my phone I'm putting it in ultra power saver to turn off all apps and notifications I'd normally get. You can add extra apps to that such as your music one on android normally. I guess flight mode might work if you've got it all offline as well.
This was very helpful, this exactly what I did and it wokrs
Pinging all those who were in the other Screenless Day threads to let you know this is up if you're interested in participating (no obligation, of course). I wasn't sure if everyone was subscribed to ~life and I didn't want anyone to miss it if they weren't.
@Atvelonis, @Amarok, @chrysanth, @georgebcrawford, @monarda, @moocow1452, @mrbig, @PhantomBand, @Pistos, @rish, @rogue_cricket, @spit-evil-olive-tips, @SteelCrown, @suspended, @Tardigrade, @vord
I've been watching these threads with interest, but I wasn't sure if I could manage to participate... I don't think I will this time, for a few reasons, but maybe next time?
The main things (aside from work and school) that make going screenless tricky this month are:
I use my phone and a Garmin watch for water/meds/heart rate tracking.
My partner and I aren't living together currently, so Discord is our main method of interaction.
I'm getting my second COVID shot on Friday, and I anticipate needing to distract myself with TV (reading isn't doable when feeling bad).
I'm interested to read what other folks do and how it goes! Maybe next month when I'm living with my partner I'll be able to find a way to participate. I think my version of going screenless would be a day where I blocked all apps on my phone except for the health ones, still used my watch, and replaced things like TV/YouTube and video games with activities like embroidery, reading, playing board games, and painting my nails/trying out makeup.
The non-digital activities often take more energy than passive watching, so with my chronic illness I'd have to plan my energy for it, but it sounds relaxing.
I think I'm going to aim for Sunday.
As much as I'd like to kick back and spend the day reading, meditating, hiking, etc, I have a decent list of things I need to do this weekend. I signed a lease for a new apartment yesterday, and I get the keys next Friday, so this is my main weekend to start preparing for the move.
As I'm planning out my to-do list, I'm making notes of the errands that won't require any screens (including things like only driving to places I know how to get to without using my phone for navigation), and I'm going to try to get most or all of them done Sunday.
I use a Kindle for virtually all my reading, so I'm definitely going to allow myself that. I plan on fully powering down my computer and phone, so there's no "I'll just check one thing real quick..." temptation.
Some of the things I have planned for the weekend (such as a first pass through all my closets to refresh my mental inventory of all the random crap I own, and look for things I can donate) would probably be much more enjoyable with an audiobook, but I only have my phone to play them on, so I'm going to skip that. Sort of makes me wish I still had one of my ancient pre-smartphone MP3 players, since I think listening to an audiobook on a device like that would still fit within the spirit of the screenless day.
Well, I made it about half the day.
Started screenless time last night. Shut down my computer and phone, went to bed earlier than I normally would if I had screens to keep me awake, and enjoyed reading until I fell asleep.
Today, I made some decent progress on move preparations. I also read a real newspaper printed on actual newsprint for the first time in forever, and actually finished the crossword (this is a local independent paper, so it's not like I finished the Sunday NYT crossword or anything)
Also on my list to do today was to check over my motorcycle and set aside the gear I'd need to ride it to my new apartment, to make sure none of it got inadvertently packed away. And if it there was nice weather, take it for a short ride.
Turns out, in the month or so since I last checked on it (it's in a different part of my apartment building's garage, separate from my car, so I have to go out of my way to check on it during the winter when I'm not riding it) someone drilled out the lock on the top case and stole my helmet and riding gloves.
This pissed me off enough that I gave in and decided I wanted some screens to distract me. I also now have a boatload of screen-requiring shit to do - I need to order a new helmet and gloves ASAP so that I can move my bike to my new place. And file a claim with either my renter's insurance, or my motorbike insurance, or probably both. And probably file a police report, because even though the police won't do anything other than scratch their ass about it, the insurance will probably require a report number. And figure out what it will take to get the lock on the top case replaced - if a local locksmith can handle it if I buy a new cylinder or if I'll have to ship the entire case somewhere.
I'm also very glad the place I'm moving into has a garage that I'll only have to share with 2 other people in the triplex. My current apartment building has a big shared garage, and even though it's behind two gates that only open with a remote, that didn't stop the thieves.
That’s awful. I’m sorry you had to deal with that and that it messed up what sounded like a decent day up to that point (I feel like any day in which someone completes a crossword is an above-average day!). Hope you can get everything sorted out with the insurance claim, but I’m frustrated on your behalf that you have to go through that whole process in the first place.
I don’t know enough about motorcycles to know, but were they trying to steal the whole bike and didn’t/couldn’t? It seems odd to me that they would just take your gloves and helmet.
Thanks. Insurance ends up being a $500 deductible and my helmet & gloves are about that much, so it ends up not being worth it to follow through with the insurance claim.
They apparently didn't even try to steal the whole bike, which is one silver lining. If they had tried to drill my ignition the bike could be unrideable and need towing. My guess is they were looking for smaller valuables to steal and take away on foot or in a car, rather than steal and ride off with the entire bike.
Tardigrades Screenless Day Plan
I'm going to have a proper screenless day later in the month with nothing but I'm going to try to fit screenless into this weekend the best I can.
My plan is to put my phone into ultra power saver mode so I can only use WhatsApp for the purposes of communicating with family (Easter weekend has some distanced plans to manage).
Sadly I can't go without my laptop as I also need to write a paper before Monday but I can do that without the Internet on and hopefully make it faster and more productive. It'll be an interesting experiment to see how much I get distracted from Internet and non Internet sources.
It'll be a success if I've not interacted with the Internet beyond messaging family and I've finished the paper by the end of the day.
Late feedback but mine got very derailed by the paper writing and getting distracted. I'll have to try again once there's a little less on my plate work wise.
xxzozaxx's Screenless day plan
Well, I tried to withdraw internet from my life once, so I think living screenless is healthy so I'M IN.
A screenless day is a day without [extra] tech, so there is reading digital books and watch lectures and stuff like that, but NO social media and endless surfing without purpose.
Gonna try to focus on study, coding and reading. Also it would be a great opportunity to focus on my life management, like fitness and finical state.
Not much, just be happy and continue living without daily dopamine doses of social media and endless surfing.\
I will take on next Friday, I will try to blog this day in my personal blog. but no promises.\
after screenless try to answer these question..
well, I goes screenless for all the day except while watching a recorded lecture, and when I call my friend.
feel like you have a free time that you don't know how to deal with it.
Not in particular as it's not my first time goes internet free, but I notice how dopamine dose internet enhance procrastination still don't have any idea why it is.
yeah, when I goes to bed early, I usually hold my phone, so I wondered what to do ? it was awkward, what should I do ? was a strange feeling btw.
Definitely I will put a plan, going screenless will let you know that you have a lot of free time, if you don't have an attack plan, you gonna open your phone
I'm doing it on Saturday!
I have been trying for the last year or so to be more mindful about what content I consume and how much of my time is consumption versus creation, and this is a part of that. I have a lot of thoughts on what the internet has become, but I don't think I want to spend too much time navel-gazing about it here at the moment.
I'm avoiding my computer, the TV, and 99% of my phone (I will use it as a phone for communication). The hardest decisions were whether to allow podcasts and whether to allow navigation apps and I decided to avoid those too. Podcasts because the on-demand instant gratification/entertainment thing is something I am trying to get away from. Navigation apps because... well, I don't really plan on going anywhere weird, so it's not a big deal and I might as well.
It'll be largely indoor activities, sadly. It's been really wet the last week and it's going to continue, so no yard work yet and there's predictions of flooding so some roads might be blocked off so I'm sticking close. I would love to lightly "KonMari" some of my stuff, especially clothes, and do some organizing. For entertainment I'd like to start reading "The Cider House", a book I got a while ago but never started. I'll probably do some journaling and call my grandma also. Then my friends and I are going to meet up in the evening for a small gathering.
This is experimental for me mostly. I'm hoping to get more personal insight into what parts of it I miss and why, so I can be more conscious of what aspects of my technology use are affecting me and how. This may be a precursor to more regular or longer periods of going technology-lite.
A day late on the reflection, but here it is:
I wasn't so productive as I intended, but that's never the case, is it? :p I ended up procrastinating the work I wanted to do with cross-stitching and listening to music on vinyl with my partner, although I did get some minor cleaning done. The weather was nicer than predicted also, so I went to a local market and did some light shopping.
At the party that evening (I live in a relatively Covid-safe area, small gathering, obeying all local guidelines, etc etc) I did end up using my phone a bit, but only because a friend of mine wanted to use my Steam account to download Jackbox and I had to authenticate it. We didn't end up playing Jackbox, but we did watch a movie.
I wasn't into the movie. I didn't want to watch a movie at all at the time, regardless of what it was! Just wasn't feeling it, plus I knew when the movie started that it'd be waaay past my bedtime by the time it ended. Sadly I was stuck there for the duration because I was the designated driver... not being able to use my phone for this kind of sucked. The rest of the day was good, though!
It was fine! Enjoyable. I had a nice day. Maybe if I didn't already have plans in the evening it would be different.
Overall pretty easy. Like I mentioned above, I had a nice day. I would even characterize it as above-average.
I was surprised by how little I cared about social media! On most days I check three or four social media sites regularly, often doing that thing where you idly bounce between them in hopes of something new coming up. But I missed Monster Hunter more than I missed social media.
I don't know if I'd consider it revelatory, but technology actually plays less of a role in my productivity concerns than I thought it would. I'll use cross-stitching, or a book, or music, or whatever other tool is available to do it with. This is not surprising to me really, more... disappointing? It'd be nice if cutting out tech could be a magic bullet for me, but I think my problem with executive dysfunction is more general.
Also, not being able to verify a piece of information was sometimes a bit frustrating. I can't remember the exact things I had wanted to know, but throughout the day I'm sure I had a couple little questions (of no consequence besides curiousity) that I couldn't get the answer to.
Finally, I definitely ate less throughout the day and kept to more regular meals.
I'll try to do the next one on a quieter day when I don't already have a social activity planned. I think I may also open myself up to using a messaging app, just because that's how my entire social group largely communicates and nobody answers their dang phone, so coordinating was a challenge! I might also loosen the podcast restriction, provided I pick just one and download it in advance rather than getting to choose one in the moment.
EDIT: Oh, and I wanted to thank you, @kfwyre, for organizing this! I'll definitely be doing more of this, and trying to incorporate some things I learned on Saturday into my life more generally - I am thinking of having a scheduled "social media / news" time or day, for instance, because I don't think it'd be hard to do and would still have some benefits. I appreciate your initiative in doing this! :)
Thanks for the kind words, rogue_cricket! I’m glad your screenless day sparked some valuable self-reflection. Also kudos to you for being a DD! That’s a very valuable and selfless thing to do for your friends.
Similar to you, I think I will allow myself access to messaging apps next time. It was weird letting direct messages to me pile up all day, and messaging isn’t really a toxic aspect of tech for me (quite the opposite really, it’s very valuable!).
I'm going for Saturday as my screenless day.
Why do you want to take a screenless day?
I spend way too much time at the screen, and I think I am worse because of it.
How are you personally defining "screenless"?
I'm defining screenless as forgoing any activity with a screen that is for entertainment or distraction. I will, however, put on a show when I go to bed.
What do you plan to do with your time?
If it's not raining, I plan to spend a lot of time in the yard and maybe go to the beach. If it is raining, I'll stay inside doing crafts, reading, or a jigsaw.
What do you hope to get out of it?
I hope to get pleasure or fulfillment out of participating in my life instead of passively letting time slip by. I hope to not get bogged down by decision making, which is one of the keys things that sits me in front the screen. Or if I do get those feelings of not knowing what to do, I can find peace in just sitting with myself, that I will accept that it's okay to sit and be quiet.
What did you do?
I dithered most of the day (not a pleasing dither either). I spent some time in the garden, did a bit more on my embroidery project, read a bit of a book, walked in circles, drank beer, listened to the birds, tried to sit quietly with myself, but instead wondered why I was having such a rough time.
How did it feel?
It felt awful. I felt lost most of the day.
Was it difficult? Easy?
It was difficult. I usually wake up a bit before dawn but went back to sleep because I didn't know what I was going to do. It used to be that that hour before dawn I would smoke on the porch, drink coffee, play a couple daily word games on my phone, then turn on the computer and read for about a half hour. It used to be my quiet time before the day started, but has morphed into doing what I do all day. I've been unemployed before, but this is the first time since my kids have been grown. I used to have them to ground me into a schedule, so even if I didn't do anything, I felt "productive" taking them to places they needed to be, cooking meals, playing games, harping about homework, etc. I don't have any external pressure to do anything, and I don't, and I was made super aware of - had to live with - my lack of direction, and I didn't like it. I only made it to 5:30 pm, at which time I was totally inebriated, and went to bed to watch tv and play on my phone. I hadn't been to reddit since the quitting reddit thread, yet I found myself scrolling r/all (which I haven't done in 7 years).
Did anything surprise you?
Two things really surprised me.
Were there any unexpected challenges/breakthroughs?
The entire day was a challenge and that was unexpected. I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything per se, but scrolling either on my phone or at the computer is so habitual that not doing it was challenging. I did have a breakthrough too. Lessons once learned have this way of coming back around when they are forgotten. I know that change can be uncomfortable, it can hurt, it can take time, that it's easy to regress during the process - that it can fucking suck - but I had forgotten that I knew this. Upon reflection of yesterday, I realize that those feelings I felt yesterday aren't some failing on my part, but what change can feel like. Old ways often want to hang on even after they have become harmful. They are are familiar to us, and even when they make things difficult, we know the path. I'm tired of this path. Starting today, I will spend 30 minutes every day doing nothing. I give myself permission to not fill the nothing with something "productive."
If you plan to do it again, what would you change? What would you keep the same?
I will do this again, but I will do it differently. When we do this again next month, I accept that I may feel uncomfortable. I won't plan to do the entire day, instead will set a time limit, like 5-8 hours. It feels more doable. (Actually next month I will be out of town, so it will be easier, but the month following that!)
This is incredibly thoughtful. Thank you for your transparency, monarda. I'm sorry it was difficult for you, but I hope it was valuable as well.
I felt exactly this. I sat there, bored and impatient, wondering if I could even remember back to what it was like to go to the bathroom without a phone? It was unexpectedly uncomfortable.
It was. Thank you so much for taking the lead and making this a thing for us!