26 votes

Tildes "Screenless Day" Brainstorming Thread

I floated an idea in the quitting reddit topic about setting up a sort of "Screenless Day":

Would anyone be interested in participating in a sort of designated “screenless day”?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about trying to organize for a while. I’m thinking it’s something we could set it up among us here at Tildes and shoot for, say, one day a month where we all agree to not turn on any of our screens and do literally anything else. The following day, once we come back online, we can talk about what we did, how it felt, etc.

It seemed like we have a few users here who might be interested, so I figured we could talk things out here about how we might implement it.

The main things I think we need to consider are:

Scheduling: having a specific calendar day centralizes efforts but also limits individual autonomy -- how can we organize this so it's simultaneously communal but also allows for individual flexibility?

Parameters: this is much more about the spirit of something than about hard and fast rules, but I think it benefits us to have a baseline guideline for what constitutes "screenlessness" (e.g. someone going on a hike might still use the GPS on their phone, and that can seem like a "violation" but is still very much in the spirit of the day)

I'll also qualify that I'm not beholden to "screenless" as the focus in the slightest. We could easily do something that's "unplugged" or "no social media" or whatever. Also I don't even have to be the leader of this! If someone else is wanting to take the reins I am more than happy with that, but I also don't mind driving the bus either.

Anyway, drop your thoughts here about how we can best roll this out. This is our brainstorming session, so nothing is set in stone and everything is up for consideration right now!

31 comments

  1. [5]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Update Based on the discussion in this thread, here's my proposal for how we implement this here. Let me know your thoughts! Scheduling The "Screenless Day" will be based on a weekend, from Friday...

    Update

    Based on the discussion in this thread, here's my proposal for how we implement this here. Let me know your thoughts!

    Scheduling

    The "Screenless Day" will be based on a weekend, from Friday to Sunday. To make things easy to remember, the weekend will be whatever is determined by the "First Friday" of the month. The thread will be posted on Thursday, and participants can choose whichever day they like to participate. If someone is unable to participate within this window, or wants to participate more frequently, they are welcome to shift this to whatever works for them.

    Parameters

    "Screenless" is a spirit, not a rule. Each person can determine what it means to them and play by their own rules.

    Let me know your thoughts. Assuming we settle on this date, the first official "Screenless Day" weekend will be the weekend after next, April 2 - 4.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      Atvelonis
      Link Parent
      Oh, what a good idea! This sounds fun. I think the flexibility works well here and should make for some interesting post-screenlessness discussion without being too restrictive. I'm personally...

      Oh, what a good idea! This sounds fun. I think the flexibility works well here and should make for some interesting post-screenlessness discussion without being too restrictive. I'm personally inclined to forego all technology, not physically interacting with my phone or computer—though I admire those like @mrbig who may take it even further, with no communication at all! I think I'd have to work my way up to that. I honestly don't think there's been a full day in my life that I've had absolutely zero human interaction.

      Thank you for organizing this, I'm very excited to give it a try. Making it a pseudo-monthly event sounds good. It occurs to me that I don't own an analog clock, and my calendar is digital now, so I'll have to figure that out. I'm realizing now how much I probably take for granted. Hopefully this will provide some perspective.

      2 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Me too, buddy :)

        I think I'd have to work my way up to

        Me too, buddy :)

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      Date works fine for me! Although it is worth noting that this falls over Easter weekend, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It might require some extra planning ahead if you are going to be...

      Date works fine for me! Although it is worth noting that this falls over Easter weekend, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It might require some extra planning ahead if you are going to be making a special meal or attending a function, especially if any part of it needs to be virtual due to the pandemic.

      My family celebrates, so I'll be reaching out to folks in advance to let them know when I'll be available. The three-day span makes this very easy to work around provided the holiday without a fixed date doesn't take you by surprise.

      2 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I didn't even think about that! Thanks for the heads up. Definitely something people should be aware of so they can plan around as needed. I also feel like it wouldn't be against the spirit of the...

        I didn't even think about that! Thanks for the heads up. Definitely something people should be aware of so they can plan around as needed.

        I also feel like it wouldn't be against the spirit of the day (depending, again, on each individual's own standards they set for themselves) if the only screen someone used was to, say, video chat with their family on a holiday. Most people are wanting to avoid screens for their more deleterious effects, whereas I feel like that's something that's almost unconditionally positive.

        3 votes
  2. [12]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I have been thinking of instituting one screen less day a week. It would be more than that actually: one day entirely dedicated to silence and meditation. I would not utter a single word, nor...

    I have been thinking of instituting one screen less day a week. It would be more than that actually: one day entirely dedicated to silence and meditation. I would not utter a single word, nor communicate with anyone by any means.

    This is something I both dread and anticipate. I think it would be hard but also beautiful.

    As for suggestions: I suppose Sunday is a day more people can have for themselves.

    For Android users I strongly recommend the free app Lock Me Out. Just be careful because it really will lock you out of the phone for the time you set and circumventing it is not trivial. You can also blacklist or whitelist apps and websites.

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      I used to do this once per week in my mid twenties. I learned an immense amount about my self and others. I remember feeling nervous prior to my first attempt. It quickly melted away during the...

      I used to do this once per week in my mid twenties. I learned an immense amount about my self and others. I remember feeling nervous prior to my first attempt. It quickly melted away during the first couple of hours.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        This is something Tricht Nhat Han recommends in one of his books. I have been planning to try ever since I read it.

        This is something Tricht Nhat Han recommends in one of his books. I have been planning to try ever since I read it.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          suspended
          Link Parent
          That's ironic. At the time, I was studying Buddhism at the local university.

          That's ironic. At the time, I was studying Buddhism at the local university.

          2 votes
          1. mrbig
            Link Parent
            That is very much a typically buddhist thing.

            That is very much a typically buddhist thing.

            2 votes
    2. [2]
      chrysanth
      Link Parent
      Your comment reminded me of this article, if you haven't already seen it!

      Your comment reminded me of this article, if you haven't already seen it!

      5 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        No. Saved to read later. Thanks.

        No. Saved to read later. Thanks.

        3 votes
    3. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      There is a Buddhist practice called noble silence that is very similar to this. I've done 2 meditation retreats that were conducted in noble silence, one for 2 days and another for 5. It's an...

      It would be more than that actually: one day entirely dedicated to silence and meditation. I would not utter a single word, nor communicate with anyone by any means.

      There is a Buddhist practice called noble silence that is very similar to this.

      I've done 2 meditation retreats that were conducted in noble silence, one for 2 days and another for 5. It's an amazing experience and I'd definitely recommend it.

      5 votes
    4. [2]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      Take a walk. Parks, cemeteries, forests, anywhere there are less people and more nature. Leave the phone behind. See how far you get before a panic attack sets in. :p

      This is something I both dread and anticipate. I think it would be hard but also beautiful.

      Take a walk. Parks, cemeteries, forests, anywhere there are less people and more nature. Leave the phone behind. See how far you get before a panic attack sets in. :p

      3 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        It's hard to do that these days because it's 35 celsius during the day and at night there's a curfew. I'm kinda going crazy because long walks at 2am with my dog were my moment. Kinda silly to...

        It's hard to do that these days because it's 35 celsius during the day and at night there's a curfew. I'm kinda going crazy because long walks at 2am with my dog were my moment. Kinda silly to have a curfew active at 2am because there's never anyone on the streets but the idea is to stop the crazy superspreader parties.

        2 votes
    5. [2]
      PhantomBand
      Link Parent
      Just meditation for an entire day? I definitely could never do that. Wouldn't want to either, though.

      Just meditation for an entire day? I definitely could never do that. Wouldn't want to either, though.

      1 vote
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Not necessarily meditation during the entire time, regular thinking is allowed.

        Not necessarily meditation during the entire time, regular thinking is allowed.

        2 votes
  3. [5]
    SteelCrown
    Link
    Do we even need a baseline for 'screenlessness'? The reasons for participation in a screenless day may vary; I'd like to get away from all media, others may dislike the presence of constant social...

    Do we even need a baseline for 'screenlessness'? The reasons for participation in a screenless day may vary; I'd like to get away from all media, others may dislike the presence of constant social media messages, or the distracting nature of specific websites like Reddit. Like you note with the hiking example: some uses of screens may be justified in achieving these varying goals. I know I wouldn't view reading a good book on a screen as bad. Unless there's some positive reason I'm missing, any arbritrary baseline could run the risk of gatekeeping people from participating.

    Assuming the format for such a day would consist of a post here on tildes, why not ask people to address what 'screenlessness' means to them in the post? This could make for an interesting prompt for discussion. Justifying some screens would help understand why or what people are trying to achieve, or why being 'screenless' helps them, both things I'd enjoy to hear more about from others.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I would say the main advantage of going screenless is to elimimate possibility of distractions. It forces you to focus more on the world around you. I love technology, but it makes us weaker in...

      I would say the main advantage of going screenless is to elimimate possibility of distractions. It forces you to focus more on the world around you.

      I love technology, but it makes us weaker in many ways, critically dependent on it.

      To expand on a hiking example.

      1. Go screenless. Don't do any preparation for subsequent steps.
      2. Eat a large breakfast.
      3. Get an old flip phone and a prepaid plan. Don't save any numbers in it.
      4. Fill a backpack with:
        • A paper notebook and pen
        • 2 large water bottles, a sandwich, and 2 granola bars.
        • Flip phone
        • $20 cash, a credit card, and an ID.
      5. Drive to a large park at least 1.5 hours away.
      6. Pick a hiking trail color and follow it.
      7. When you stop to rest, look around, take in the sights, and write something down...doesn't matter what.
      8. Stop hiking when your first water bottle is half empty.
      9. Call the most important person in your life. If you don't know their number, write down a mental note to memorize it.
      10. Return back the way you came.
      11. Go back home, but stop at your local library and check out a book. Registering for a card can be an exemption if needed.
      12. Go home, eat dinner.
      13. Read book until bed.

      If any of this sound hard or impossible, it's a sign of technological dependence. That was business as usual circa 1994. Except probably not the cellphone.

      Electronics are massively useful. But now being without them makes even trivially simple tasks hard without them.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Tardigrade
        Link Parent
        The dependancy on GPS though is something extra to that. I don't think I'd find somewhere I'd not been before without it.

        The dependancy on GPS though is something extra to that. I don't think I'd find somewhere I'd not been before without it.

        1. vord
          Link Parent
          That's half the point. If you get lost, stop and ask directions. Pro tip: AAA has cheap maps of various levels of detail.

          That's half the point. If you get lost, stop and ask directions. Pro tip: AAA has cheap maps of various levels of detail.

          2 votes
    2. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Yeah, this is very much what I’m thinking. I have no interest in gatekeeping others’ behavior, but I was thinking about it more in terms of the “pull factor” that we can focus the day on — whether...

      Yeah, this is very much what I’m thinking. I have no interest in gatekeeping others’ behavior, but I was thinking about it more in terms of the “pull factor” that we can focus the day on — whether that’s no screens, no social media, no frivolous tech use, etc. I think having a succinct label on the day helps focus participation, but ultimately it’s most important that people participate in ways that are meaningful and functional to them.

      With this in mind, is “screenless” a good label for this, or is there something better we can call it?

      5 votes
  4. [3]
    rogue_cricket
    Link
    Regarding scheduling, I like the idea of a flexible day within a small range. Make the range too large and it gets a bit away from the communal aspect of it, so I think two or three days feels...

    Regarding scheduling, I like the idea of a flexible day within a small range. Make the range too large and it gets a bit away from the communal aspect of it, so I think two or three days feels about right-size for this. My suggestion would be one of a Friday/Saturday with a results topic posted on Sunday, but I also work a typical 9-5 and I'm happy with a larger range if someone needs the space in order to participate! At the very least, I think a "weekend" day and a "weekday" day should both be included as options.

    For me I would prefer a weekend; my work requires a computer and a constant internet connection and I find it hard to avoid social media and other screen-entertainment activities if I'm already there. I also take some virtual lessons which I would like to avoid having on screenless days though it wouldn't be a dealbreaker.

    Regarding parameters, I like the suggestion from @SteelCrown that the specifics should be left up to the individual although I personally agree with @monarda that the spirit of it is to not use a screen to entertain oneself, especially the kind that's really just killing time with easy and instant dopamine hits. My plan is to avoid screentime as much as possible and to use analog solutions instead to revisit how I used to do things, but I have those alternates available... some younger folks might not! So I wouldn't fault anyone who unplugged their ethernet cord and wrote a short story on Word, or someone who logs their calories on their phone or whatever.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I think this is a good idea - suppose we picked "first weekend of the month" or something like that? That would make it easy to plan ahead and block off a day where I have no plans other than...

      Regarding scheduling, I like the idea of a flexible day within a small range. Make the range too large and it gets a bit away from the communal aspect of it, so I think two or three days feels about right-size for this.

      I think this is a good idea - suppose we picked "first weekend of the month" or something like that? That would make it easy to plan ahead and block off a day where I have no plans other than unplugging, and should be flexible enough to fit everyone's schedule (and timezones).

      2 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I like this a lot! I think being able to plan for it is key, and I love the idea of it being a recurring thing. I also think that no matter what we pick people won’t always be able to participate...

        I like this a lot! I think being able to plan for it is key, and I love the idea of it being a recurring thing.

        I also think that no matter what we pick people won’t always be able to participate on the observed dates, and that’a okay too. Someone who can’t do it on that weekend for whatever reason can always shift theirs to the week before or after. There’s nothing stopping anyone doing it at any time really, but I don’t think the idea has as much stickiness if we make it too unfocused time-wise.

        3 votes
  5. monarda
    Link
    For the most part I don't have a schedule, so am open to just about any day. I had been wondering about people that have need to be on the screen for work or school, or etc., so maybe it's about...

    For the most part I don't have a schedule, so am open to just about any day.

    I had been wondering about people that have need to be on the screen for work or school, or etc., so maybe it's about not using the screen to entertain oneself?

    5 votes
  6. chrysanth
    Link
    Hmm, good point that there's no need to take "screenless" to the logical extreme. I like "no social media," but that doesn't necessarily exclude news sites, which can be hard to quit checking with...

    Hmm, good point that there's no need to take "screenless" to the logical extreme. I like "no social media," but that doesn't necessarily exclude news sites, which can be hard to quit checking with regularity much like social media feeds. Curious to see what others are thinking.

    In terms of days we can do together, I'd prefer the weekends, since I think it'd be easier to avoid screens Friday through Sunday. Open to other days though if people feel strongly about their screen time on the weekend.

    4 votes
  7. Tardigrade
    Link
    I'm down for something fully screenless but all my books are on my kobo and whilst that is a screen the eink and singular purpose of the device fits screenless to me. Also my watch is semismart so...

    I'm down for something fully screenless but all my books are on my kobo and whilst that is a screen the eink and singular purpose of the device fits screenless to me. Also my watch is semismart so whilst it does have a screen and can give notifications if I turn my Bluetooth off it functions just as a watch so I'd still use that.

    4 votes
  8. kfwyre
    Link
    Pinging the users who responded to my comment in the other thread, so they know this topic is here: @georgebcrawford @monarda @chrysanth @rogue_cricket

    Pinging the users who responded to my comment in the other thread, so they know this topic is here:

    @georgebcrawford
    @monarda
    @chrysanth
    @rogue_cricket

    3 votes
  9. suspended
    Link
    Once winter breaks here, 'screenless' days will just happen automatically. My immediate family go on overnight hike/camping trips. Some of them are for several nights. No screens. Just wilderness....

    Once winter breaks here, 'screenless' days will just happen automatically. My immediate family go on overnight hike/camping trips. Some of them are for several nights. No screens. Just wilderness. Thus, spending time in the outdoors may help break the habit of screens.

    3 votes