Digital Mindfulness


City living in 2019 means we traverse our lives with tiny phone screens, flashes of colour and digital content seemingly everywhere we look. The ideals of simpler times, or how we got here rarely pass through our thoughts… after all who has time for looking backwards in this rush?

Consider for a moment, the development of the colour television. It happened first in America with RCA in 1954, and later due to trepidation in strategic planning, the BBC brought Wimbledon Tennis to full-colour screens for the first broadcast in 1967. Colour brought the viewer into a place of ease and understanding as stories unfolded in front of their eyes. With less guesswork required to decipher details, watching quickly shifted from effort to enjoyment.

Our digital culture has since excelled in bringing us media at a rate faster than we can comprehend it. Crisp colourful images overwhelm our minds and the world has been quickly made smaller. With these benefits come side effects: we face short attention spans, dependence on technology, mindless time spent scrolling, and arguably, too much ease in disconnecting with real people. Still, we reach easily for phones in our purses and back pockets to take in what we missed while the gadget was temporarily hidden away.

phone in greyscale

It isn’t until this love-hate relationship confronts us, that we look for solutions to withdraw from it. Spending a day each week “unplugged” is a common grounding technique, but there is more that can be done to set boundaries with technology. A few suggestions include:

  • Keep a media diary. It’s best to know where you’re starting from, and that may be enough to slow your usage!
  • Give digital time a schedule in your life. Only check your email at certain times daily, watch TV while you exercise only, or put your phone to bed early.
  • Let your laziness work for you: keep your phone far enough away from you that it takes work to reach for it.
  • Wear a wristwatch! Is the first reason you look at your phone for the time? Be mindful of its inviting nature as you choose to open it to read, scroll, watch and waste the time that you went to it for in the first place.
  • Turn your phone into a black and white television. Activate the greyscale setting and notice how quickly you are disenchanted with a colourless media experience – Note: it’s easy to change it back when you need an in-colour moment. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated and introspective. It can be as easy as striving for simplicity!

Reference: UK Science and Media Museum: The Beginning of the End of Black and White Television, Iain Baird, 6 January 2014.