Author: Karsemeyer, John

The Screen Fast Test

We all know about the food fast (different than fast food). That, of course, is when we go without food for a certain designated period of time. Some folks do it voluntarily, and some folks do it involuntarily because they don’t have the money, and some do it for all the reasons in between.

We Americans are addicted. We are addicted in a big way to screens: television screens; computer screens; I-Pad screens; smart phone screens, and on and on. A television show has been circulating on PBS TV about six kids who watch their screens anywhere from four to fourteen hours a day. They go into the woods with guides/counselors, camping, learning about nature, and getting involved in creativity and serious play time in the great outdoors for a week or so. The only requirement for these youngsters is to leave all screens and electronic devices behind. These kids are tourists in the land of “No Screens.” It is an attempt to do away with a serious disorder with which all these kids are afflicted, “NDD.” Yes, sadly, they have come down with a Nature Deficiency Disorder.

These kids are not out of the ordinary. They are just like your kids, and mine. And not only that, just like you and me; way too much screen time! The psychologists and seriously degreed educators in the aforementioned television program warn of the dangers of too much screen time; no direct contact with the real world, no appreciation of nature, no ability to interact with the real world, no hands-on creativity with real objects, and on and on.

The tragic result (in my opinion) of the whole new experience these kids had in the woods is that their “therapy” in the forest didn’t last long. That is to say, after the kids got back home their challenge was to go on a “screen fast” for as long as possible. The kids related that when they were involved in the real world of nature they didn’t miss their screens. But when they got back home one kid made it for one hour without her screen, one for four hours without his screen, and the others didn’t last the day.

There is an opportunity coming up to test yourself and see if you can go on a screen fast; to find out what you have become over the technological years, and see how long, or even if you can stay away from your screen(s) for awhile. This test will not occur after you get home unless you want it to. This test will occur while YOU are in the woods (if you actually go to the City of Trees).

The test will occur in the town of Grass Valley, California during the week of June 10th, 2013. It will be given at the upcoming CBA Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival, where you can camp in your tent, “campout” in you RV, just sleep in the back of your pickup truck, or on the ground (a firm sleeping pad and sleeping bag are helpful). There will be many fine things there to divert your attention from your screen(s). What things?

There are the three stages of live music. There is the jamming. There are the workshops. There are the concession stands. There are the eighty acres of trees to ponder while you walk among them. There is the next best thing to Walden Pond where you can commune with the spirit of H.D. Thoreau and ponder your existence without screens. There is the exploration of the Empire Mine in town that is oozing with history. There are books to read on real paper that you can bring with you or purchase at the festival pertaining to bluegrass music. Digital Public Libraries have arrived, and E-Books are now more ubiquitous than McDonalds, but for a week or so you can be different (you know you’ve always wanted to be). You can be more in touch with your musical instrument, or buy one, or borrow one (I have one you can rent). There are many reasons to cancel out the one reason you have for screen worshiping on your electronic devices while at this bluegrass music festival.

And right now I’m wondering, do the “Kids On Bluegrass” at the Fathers Day Festival experience “Screen Withdrawal?”

Anyway, this is just food for thought. If you do this you just might find that you feel a whole lot different that you do now, reading this on your screen. Oh I know, I know, I’m using my screen to write this, but you know what? Come the week of the soon arriving, best bluegrass festival around, my plan is to not go near a screen. My attempt at a screen fast will be pursued with vigor. But that’s just me. Sometimes you have to give up what you have to find your way; at least for a little while.

Oh, and those electronic tuners with mini screens that you use to tune your instrument? What to do, what to do?

Posted:  6/8/2013

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