It’s when the back starts to slump a bit, and the nape of the neck tightens. Eyeballs redden, dry and squeeze, vision narrows to only a pinpoint of clarity. Pressure on the wrists causes indentions and possible finger numbness. Loss of appetite but cravings of sweet and caffeinated beverages persist. Attitude markedly deteriorates and mood swings are probable. Isolation from peers is immanent. Common relief calls for removal of stimulant and introduction of ocular repose.
I wouldn’t have believed that as a Peace Corps volunteer I would suffer from the above affliction. Malaria, dengue, parasites, giardia, dysentery, even beriberi at least sound like Peace Corps maladies. But sitting on the computer too long? Is this really how I find myself on workdays in Thailand? Unfortunately it is. My total Internet use may pale in comparison to the average American these days but on many of my school days I could give any High School student a run for their money on average Sustained Screen Viewing, or SSV. How my job allows so much time for idleness is unimportant, but it’s the way it is, the accepted Modus operandi.
I made a crucial and intentional decision not to put Internet into my home (this too was a surprising option for me to have) and have thus saved myself on extra mental fry outs. These days of sustained screen viewing are periodic but this only makes the symptoms worse and still require treatment. Shutting down the computer is the first and most crucial step. I then put the unit back in its case and look to the wall 5 feet in front of me, regaining slight depth perception. From the wall I will move to tracking the students as they run by (not to attend classes to be sure) , my eyes are rewarded by this sudden exercise of ability and my field of vision begins to widen. Next is the bike method where my brain joins in to make split second decisions navigating terrain and withered legs pump to generate blood flow in the dormant appendages. This is usually enough for physical reentry into the world but often there are psychological effects needing attention.
If I need an extra push into a good and manageable mood it is the view of mountains in the distance that provides. My eyes get a full 360 view in real 3D, for unlimited depth on a soft gaze. It’s my mind’s reminder that life is outside a 12’’ box and well beyond my concerns. An evening hike out of my village to view the sun setting over a lake is a long and steady exhale. The suction cups on my eyes release and shoulders drop from my ears.