Time to create a balanced relationship with technology?

Office in a small city — Edward Hopper (1953)

European clocks went forward on Sunday; in North America the switch happened a couple of weeks ago. But is Daylight Saving Time becoming less relevant?

Looking around, one could be forgiven for asking whether the priority is not daylight but the backlight found in LCD screens used in smartphones and modern televisions. And in fact, that extra hour of daylight in the evening mainly means an extra hour of waiting until we can get those richer blacks and more intense contrast where it seems to matter ever more: the virtual world.

A benefit of a more balanced relationship with technology is more daylight

Although we’re forced to spend more time inside, the more time we spend looking at screens, the less important daylight becomes — and sometimes, yes, more of a hindrance.

Whether you’re checking your messages, posting, scrolling, tweeting, or watching a video, daylight is a hassle. But when you’re in quarantine daytime is when you can get things done in natural light.

We started heading this way because we wanted to. Nowadays — to a large extent — we simply do it because we do it. And because others want us to do it.

Is this really how you want to spend all your time inside?

The better balance with technology movement

In 2016, Google employee Tristan Harris left his job to found a new non-profit organisation called Time Well Spent, which sought to expand the debate on what technology is doing to us and led to the creation of the Center for Humane Technology.

Since then, the topic has exploded into the mainstream and it has become clear that it is not doing good things to our general sense of well-being.

The home page of the Center’s website features a striking montage image. A generic graphic of a smartphone is combined with a photograph of a woman. But she is not presented as being on the screen. She is in fact looking out from the phone, leaning with her arms folded on the bottom edge of the screen as though it were a windowsill. She seems happy, enjoying the view. And she is bathed in sunlight.

Maybe it makes sense to use these brighter evenings for something other than looking at pixels?

And when bedtime approaches, matching sundown with a digital sunset: everything switched off, leaving just a land-line with a number known only to family and close friends, and waking up to the new day with a dedicated alarm clock. (Don’t worry about offending Alexa, it/she will laugh it off.)

Building a more balanced relationship with technology

Consider joining those who ditch their smartphones regularly, by combining a basic phone with a laptop or tablet (much better for typing on).

Nowadays these ideas may sound almost radical, but as far as biology is concerned, they’re what your brain wants. Hence the medical side-effects of tech over-use.

Because of the apparent reduction in traffic accidents, Daylight Saving Time is said to increase life expectancy of a country’s citizens. Ditto banning phone use while driving, of course (with a much clearer causal link).

But over-use of tech shrinks our lives in another way as well — incrementally and inevitably. It gives us a narrower existence in which we are less focussed, less rested and thus less awake. Over-use eats our lives, and it’s becoming the norm.

Time for a rethink?

This story was previously published on www.punkt.ch

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