Screen-Free Week starts in a few days, and I am mostly excited for the challenge. I’m a little anxious about leaving the Facebook world for seven whole days (I wasn’t even able to do that during a trip to the French Alps last fall), but I look forward to escaping status update overload and all the virtual tagging and poking for a while. I’m happily anticipating more time for reading, listening to music, and enjoying longer walks with my two little dogs. But what I’m not so happily anticipating is tuning out Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert next week. I have identified my Screen-Free Week Achilles’ heel.
I’ve considered proposing that CCFC choose the date for Screen-Free Week based on the Comedy Central duo’s vacation schedules, but something tells me that won’t fly. The flurry of thoughts that came to mind when I started visualizing my week went something like this: “Can I watch online episodes of the Colbert Report and the Daily Show that I miss? Will they be as enjoyable a week later? Does it defeat the purpose of going screen-free for a week if I just double up on my screen time the next?” Even though I only catch these favorite shows of mine a few times a week, this planning process helped me realize how much I enjoy—and even depend on—my favorite television satirists.
I think that’s one of the really wonderful things about Screen-Free Week: it challenges us to think about and evaluate the media we consume. Preparing for the week has helped me weed out the programs I really love from the ones I watch just because. Turning off House Hunters? Who cares. Scrubs? Seen every episode, no problem. Seinfeld? Seen every episode thrice—wait, why do I keep watching them over and over? Determining which media content I’ll truly miss has shown me that most of the screen-based entertainment I consume I could easily do without…except those hilarious news shows I’ll miss so.
What if after Screen-Free Week the only time I spent watching TV was on the Colbert Report and the Daily Show a few times a week? I think it’s doable and that it would be screen time well spent. As for my current screen diet, it’s not the healthiest. I hope next week’s digital detox flushes away some of my media toxins so I can enjoy the full flavor of the good stuff.