Friday, April 26, 2013

Walden Zone

Like many other parents, I struggle with the amount of time my children spend in front of an electronic screen.  They are always in front of either a TV, a computer, a tablet or a smartphone.  But then, it is just not our kids.  I spend so much time looking at my laptop or phone.  All of us do!  Aren't we all having an overdose of information and screen gazing ?  How would it be to take a break from them ?  As I have been mulling about this, I came across this term - Walden Zone.
 

 
 
Walden Zone is a term that was coined by American writer William Powers in his bestseller Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.  The thought is that we spend too much being bombarded by information and data and that we need a break from it  – as Henry David Thoreau famously did to write Walden, or, Life in the Woods.  So, we should set aside a space for quiet thinking and reflection, to get a break from all this digital noise.
 
 
 
We need to set aside some time every week to spend in our Walden Zone.  The Walden Zone could just be a comfortable nook in your home, in your backyard or in a quiet place in a park.  Spend a few hours away (or a day, if you can afford it) away from any information or any digital devices.  It could be a serene place where you can collect your thoughts and be with yourself.
 
I understand that there are many libraries across the country, creating Walden Zones.  There are also some people who find places like their meditation class, their spas, or their breaks during a hike in the woods / trails, very similar to the concept of Walden Zone. 
 
I plan to set aside some time every week to spend in my Walden Zone (when I find it - hopefully within my home.... :-) ). 

3 comments:

Ajay Iyengar said...

Chandru,
Great article. Glad to see that your writing juices are still running...I'm rather impressed with the fact that you're quoting RWE. In any case...food for thought. I think we need to probe a little deeper on the issue we have with watching screens. I believe that watching TV is not the same as playing a video game or being on facebook on three critical aspects: social interaction, mental stimulation and motor skill development. I'm sure there are more. Rather than hope for a disruptive change that will somehow move us and kids away from screens, it might be more pragmatic to include those facets in the activities they pursue on screens. Just my humble opinion and food for thought.

Ajay Iyengar said...

Chandru,
Great article. Glad to see that your writing juices are still running...I'm rather impressed with the fact that you're quoting RWE. In any case...food for thought. I think we need to probe a little deeper on the issue we have with watching screens. I believe that watching TV is not the same as playing a video game or being on facebook on three critical aspects: social interaction, mental stimulation and motor skill development. I'm sure there are more. Rather than hope for a disruptive change that will somehow move us and kids away from screens, it might be more pragmatic to include those facets in the activities they pursue on screens. Just my humble opinion and food for thought.

Ram Ramachandran said...

Ajay,

I agree with you on the different ways to use these screens... However, I really think we are over-exposed to them and letting go of them, at regular intervals will be very useful. I am not saying move away from them, but take a break from them. Like a cleansing act, if you will...