Early in the morning, I wake up and can’t fall back asleep. Gently tap on the top left button on my phone and my life is instantly validated–text messages and facebook notifications tell me that other people are thinking about me when I have not been thinking about them. The blue glow on my face alerts Anne that I am in now trapped in the Blue Screen, doomed to avoid living in the present for a potentially infinite amount of time. In the morning, I usually find myself in the Blue Screen, but take myself out of it for some reason. (Usually I need to go to the bathroom.)
The number of Blue Screen moments when we are camping is limited by cell phone coverage and phone charge. The contrast, then, when I reach a city, is extreme. I fall right back into it. (I sometimes have my laptop open and my cell phone at my side and use both simultaneously.) When we’ve been camping, I’ve avoided facebook and significant internet access for days, only connecting to update the blog for my daily photo and to look up directions. I don’t pick up my phone in the morning because I’m saving the cell charge for when we get lost. I don’t upload every photo to facebook because I’ve turned the “mobile data” connection off. There is no lack in my life during these days.
When in cities, the Blue Screen has become my go-to reaction to the simple condition of being alive. Any time I am awake or alert, I tap the blue screen. I scroll. I caress its soft face and take the gel cover off and put it back on.
What if I could treat the Blue Screen as a limited commodity, even when my access to it is limitless? Can I prevent myself from seeking instant validation when I do have cell charge and data wherever I want? I’m going to attempt this feat by creating for myself:
The Blue Screen Code of Conduct
1. Do not Blue Screen for half an hour after waking up or half an hour before going to bed. What happened on facebook overnight, and what is about to happen overnight, does not matter. (Let’s get real–actually nothing that happens on facebook matters. But this is about limiting blue screen, not eliminating)
2. Do not Blue Screen when in the company of other humans. (This came from Anne.) But do Blue Screen if looking something up that is imminently important or relevant, like directions.
3. Do not Blue Screen just to upload photos. It only takes a minute to edit a photo and throw it on instagram. It does require, however, interrupting conversation and interaction to enter the Blue Screen. And once you’re in, you are only one click away from facebook, and one more click away from checking notifications, and one more click away…
4. Do upload photos when it does not detract from interaction. Like when the people you are with are in the bathroom.
5. Do not Blue Screen when eating. I think I started blue screening because of lunch breaks at work. I was a new nurse and too scared to talk to anyone. Everyone would have their cell phones out, so I got in the habit of pulling mine out (even though at the time, I didn’t even have a reliable smartphone). I then started associating eating with blue screening in some capacity–either my phone, or computer, or TV had to be on and entertaining me for me to be ready to eat. Now, rather than complimenting my meal as entertainment, my meal is an excuse to enter the Blue Screen. I miss tasting things.
6. Do continue to do useful things on the computer but stay on the human side of the Blue Screen. I will continue keeping a blog. I want to keep writing and this blog is a reason to write. So it’s okay to update the blog while Anne is reading the newspaper. It’s okay to isolate yourself to do something that requires a limited amount of time and is tangibly productive. But mindless scroll and caress of phone? No.