The Struggles of Unplugging
The modern worlds' addiction to smartphones, tablets, and computers is often discussed, usually from a negative perspective. For the sake of this post we'll assume that too much screen-time is in fact a bad thing, and look at how frustratingly hard it can be to reduce it.
The first and most obvious challenge, is that these technologies have become necessary in so many facets of day-to-day life. From a communications standpoint it is irreplaceable. Our devices increase our capacity to communicate drastically, even if they can also decrease the amount of face-to-face interaction we have. We reach for our phones to find and navigate to new places, instead of the physical maps and directories that few even possess anymore. As a job-seeker I am particularly dependent on the internet for finding new opportunities. I can't imagine having to sift through the newspaper classifieds, and I don't even know how you would go about finding opportunities outside your home region. The list of these types of examples could go on forever, but I would like to focus on a factor not often recognized, affordability.
For me, these technologies (read: the internet) offer affordable and versatile entertainment. There are many offline activities I would love to participate in, but can't afford. For example, I would love to: go kayaking in the many beautiful lakes and rivers near my home, use and improve my woodworking skills, go travelling or even just on a weekend camping trip. The problem is all of these things require significant monetary investments. With my devices, I have a lifetimes worth of entertainment at my fingertips for a reasonable monthly fee. And the diversity of that entertainment is huge. It's a value that can't be beat, except perhaps by the public library.
The last point I feel I should bring up is that our devices are just so darn convenient. Those examples of things I would like to do, but can't afford... they also all require considerable effort to undertake. There is no doubt about it, loading up a show in bed will always be easier than loading up a kayak to take to the lake. I think in the past we were motivated by boredom to a greater degree because if we didn't invest in doing these things, what was the alternative? Activities you could do from the comfort of your favourite seat at home were much more limited. Today, boredom has become more scarce but so has the motivation that it inspires.