being well Area

being well during the 2020 pandemic

  friendship via screentime
gary e. davis
May 2020
  April 2020

Genuineness with others can be taken to heart through screentime (which, to my mind, has been true of letters forever). We can be a concerting cultivation across cultures.

May 2020

So, the elders are learning from their children virtual enjoyments of bonding through screentime.

That can be emotionally challenging, but—for me—the relationality is conceptually interesting, because the screen is a visual textuality that exposes the common performative aspect of all human being with others.

Digressing for a moment: Natural attitude—lack of pretense, clarity of genuineness—always is “performing oneself,” which is commonly evident to philosophers, psychologists, and anyone in a performance business (like teaching!) or even for ordinary business days!—or, of course, for any fine art.

No wonder, then, that a writer would want to emphasize the genuineness of being together through a screen.

Yet, “our digital selves” is delightfully ambiguous: oneself having plural selves?: as if interpersonal relating is between avatars troping actually genuine action; and/or oneself varies by interpersonal relationship. (We’re not talking mere role differences here; rather, differences in kinds of relating: friendship, solidarity, kinship, intimacy, formality‚Ķaltogether being in a continuum of degrees of relating through degrees of nearness (echoed in ethical theory that highlights “near-and-dear” caring over merely social caring).

Variability of degree in committed relating is why I’ve focused on self/ [inter]personal differences of a life (being oneself across years) having many relationships that are merely (though aptly) about “our” times over months or some years, between lives that are also essentially separate
(even for the best marriages—maybe lasting because a balance is loved).

Perhaps Frank Bruni, NYTimes columnist, is distressed about being “not wired to be this alone” because he’s exaggerating the point of bonding via screen, which no one seriously postures as a full substitute for actual others in one’s life. Conversely, he may also be missing that active caring can belong to “textual” intimacy by screen.

In any case, creating Life/screentime balance is a matter of respecting
s/p differentiation derived from doing so in one’s life: on the one hand,
not surrendering oneself to interpersonal relationships (i.e., avoiding self-confounding dependence), not tending toward screentime addiction;
on the other hand, not transgressing boundaries in given interpersonal relationships: not objectifying another’s presence (nor requiring fantasy bonding by the other), not abusing another’s trust (no duplicity).

Good screentime is symbolic of its correlate in actual interpersonal life,
screen derivative of actual, screen allegorical of one’s life.

Catherine Price details the craft of online balance in “How to Create Screen-Life Balance,” which is divided into convenient advice sections
which pertain to interpersonal life as well:

  • “There are different types of screen time,” as there are different types of interpersonal relationship.

  • “Determine which uses of your screens” and interpersonal relationships “are essential, and in what amount” of time.

  • “Think of your ‘free’ time as being divided into three categories: consumption, creation and connection.” Correlatively, interpersonal relationships may be primarily receptive (e.g., learning), responsive (e.g., teaching), or mutual. (I recall the triarchy of Transactional Analysis in psychotherapy: child-to-parent, parent-to-child, and

  • “Monitor your own mood (and your children’s moods) while you are
    on screens.” This can be no better than one’s flexibility of feeling in day-to-day relations, but pertains just as much to visual textuality.

  • “Recognize the signs of ‘stress-scrolling’.” That corresponds to my point above: not surrendering oneself to [inter]personal relations.

  • “Create a list of off-screen activities” and self-enhancing engagements “that make you feel good” in and for the good of one’s horizon of life.

  • “Try not to start and end your day with screens” or others: Give your-self solitude in the morning and evening, regardless of the degree of screentime in your life.

  • “Identify your goals and priorities” with respect to your life and therefore your relationships.

  • “Create boundaries.” Indeed.

  • “Remember that you’re more than a head sitting on a body,” i.e.,
    you preserve feeling for what happens relative to what’s important
    for being well.

  • “Take regular breaks.”

next—> thankfulness




  Be fair. © 2020, gary e. davis