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It’s not a stretch to say that our lives have become more attuned to technology than the living world around us. From a young age now, people are affixed to screens of all sizes, from smartphones to plasma screens. Even simpler, the thought of life—even a few hours—without electricity has become unimaginable to some.
What does life look like without selfies, video streaming, and whatever flavor of social media suits you? What does someone do these days without electricity, the internet, or screens? It wasn’t even a hundred years ago that life was free of these things, but escaping them now seems an exceptional challenge.
But some of us are trying. Some of us have decided that every five-minute wait, maybe every evening, doesn’t have to be riddled with texting, scrolling, and watching videos. There are ways —there were, weren’t there? —to keep ourselves entertained and content without electricity or computer chips. What were they?
One of the great pastimes of old is walking, and that’s walking while looking around at the world. These walks could take place around a neighborhood block, in a city park, and a national forest. Walks are great for thinking through problems, chatting with loved ones, or exploring new places.
Playing isn’t just for toddlers. It can be fun for young and old. We can play board games with a group of friends. We can play cards with a partner or the kids. We can play sports outside when the weather is nice. We can play outdoor games like tag and hide-and-seek. We can play. Why not?
Reading doesn’t require the internet or any kind of electrical device. Books are still great and get the job done. There are also print newspapers and magazines, and these can even be checked out at the library for those not wanting to create waste. Reading can still be a power-free diversion.
Growing a garden, be it flowers or food, can be rewarding, therapeutic, and captivating. Gardens can take as much or as little time as we like, depending on the design, but they are the right kind of activity for ditching technology for a little while, just appreciating nature. It might supply something nice to eat or smell as well.
Source: TEDx Talks/YouTube
There are lots of things that can interest us, many of which don’t require computers or screens. We can learn to juggle, learn to play an instrument, learn to speak a new language, learn to crochet/knit, learn to sew, learn to whittle, learn to dance, learn to tie knots, learn to do magic, learn how to meditate, and so much more.
Of course, we can talk. We do it all the time. But, these days we have replaced a lot of our conversations with messages and memes. We’ve replaced expressing ourselves with character limits and hyperlinks. Instead, we can talk. We can choose topics and explore them with people: a brother, a wife, a parent, a friend, a colleague, or a stranger.
Sketching doesn’t require that all participants be seasoned or talented artists. It can be done by three-year-olds, remember? And, if it is engrossing enough to entertain a three-year-old, well, there must be something worthwhile to it, even for those who can’t seem to draw a straight line. Luckily, straight lines aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
Source: John Spencer/YouTube
Like sketching, writing doesn’t have to be done by professionals (and diary-keeping teens) only. It can be done by most. It can be done without electricity with the use of a pen or pencil, and paper. It can be a private journal, a story to share, a list of things you want to do, or a letter to send via snail mail. Writing, hmm.
Taking a nap is fantastic. It can be a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon with the window opened so a cool breeze or two pushes in. Naps are even better without earbuds and podcasts. They can be a moment curled up on the sofa after a cup of tea. They can be swinging in the hammock, staring up at the sky. They can be lots of things without electricity.
Something is satisfying and reviving about cleaning, particularly stuff that’s been on the back burner and requires a little elbow grease. When we aren’t inundated with screen time, we can use our time to do these tasks, and they’ll leave us feeling much better than another video of funny pet tricks.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with using computers and smartphones. They are extraordinarily practical and make life easier in a lot of ways. But, it’s important to remember that there is much more available to us. Getting away from screens regularly, every day at some point for some amount of time can do us a lot of good, too.
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