Assis on a terrace with the family, enjoying a beautiful summer evening that is neither too cool nor too hot, savoring a good Italian meal while feeling every second slowly passing by, I can’t help repeating to myself that something is wrong in the room. haunting way in which the kid at the next table frantically manipulates his parents’ smartphone. The youngster, between 6 and 8 years old, spent a good hour juggling from one application to another, from Snapchat to Instagram via Facebook and a game of toy soldiers, all without ever looking up or leaving a only second the brilliant screen.
This frenzied activity, my eyes twirling from side to side endlessly, fingers tapping intensely on the keyboard and my body tensed with stress, left me thoughtful and slightly in shock. Instead of living the moment with his family, connected in the present by observing the world around him, the child was totally disconnected and plunged into a parallel universe, as if reality did not exist.
This scene, it took place a long time ago: it was at the end of summer 2019, before the pandemic. Suffice to say that it happened in another life, the last twenty months have been so strange. The Covid put us on hiatus and made me appreciate slowing down, not always having to be overstimulated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is by reflecting on boredom, on the fact that it is healthy to be bored and not always to fill the voids, the silences, by the hyperactivity, that I re-examined in loop in my head this young “zombie” unable to pick up the phone, as if his life depended on it.
This image of a child from whom technology has stolen a normal childhood, preventing him from being bored and having to develop his imagination to occupy himself, it has bothered me since this supper, but it took me a long time to clearly discern what bothered me so much. Unable to go through any boring moment, to endure the wait, or simply to let his mind wander as he pleases his mind, as the healthy and normal development of a child requires, the boy suffered through his cell phone. parents much more stimuli than what nature intended us. This inability to be present, to live the moment, without seeking to flee into a virtual reality or to brutalize ourselves under a ton of non-essential data leading us to constantly compare ourselves, represents for me the human tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. , behind our screens.
These screens, however beneficial they may seem to us and how effective they are sold to us, are in reality simple attention collectors aimed at guiding our decisions, manipulating our thought patterns and making us consume more. More screen time, more divided attention and more overconsumption of goods. We are all victims at different levels of the impact of these new technologies, but it is essential to be aware of this and to cultivate boredom, to reclaim calm and to let our brains breathe a little air, often already. overused by the pace of modern life. Whether we are an adult, child or other, we have to disconnect sometimes, so that we are inclined to reconnect with real life, with nature, with our loved ones and with what is essential, without worrying about the last notification!
Jonathan Brisebois-Lépine, Prévost (Quebec, Canada)
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“Readers’ words” – Cut the screens, cultivate boredom!