Screens and beyond

Screens, large and small, dominate our lives in every category. From work, to entertainment to “doom-scrolling”, nearly all of us spend far too much of our waking hours staring into that glowing abyss.

By Morf Morford

Screens, large and small, dominate our lives in every category. From work, to entertainment to “doom-scrolling”, nearly all of us spend far too much of our waking hours staring into that glowing abyss.

Many of us spent the bulk of our lives and careers IRL (In Real Life), but many young people have lived their whole lives in the thrall of electronic devices and irresistible digital programs.

From Pokémon Go to Tik-Tok, life away from screens barely seems possible.

The good news is that there is life, even abundant, and rewarding life beyond those screens that seem so urgent (but almost never are) or important (and almost never are).

But before screens, and even before recorded or broadcast entertainment there was direct, unmediated life. Live experiences, from wilderness encounters, to live performances from plays to circuses, or even actual face-to-face conversations were once the reliable, near constant fabric of human daily lives.

We didn’t need to check which boxes contained traffic lights to prove that we were human. Our default setting was “human” and we just interacted with others, from bartering to travel on a relatively equal basis.

There is, of course, nothing “equal”, human or even satisfying about most digital encounters.

The “doom” of “doom-scrolling” is very real. The anxiety/depression/suicide rate related to social media use is horrifying – especially for girls. You can see some background here –

But as I mentioned above, there is life outside of digital distractions.

From walking in a park to having a meal with friends, life in the real world will do your mental and physical health a world of good.

Here are just a few real-life opportunities;

Salish Sea Early Music

From all over Washington state and Vancouver, Canada, you can catch the Salish Sea Early Music Festival.

You can see a full dossier on the schedule locations and programs here –

But, in short, if you want to hear music as it sounded on period instruments from six centuries around the Salish Sea and beyond, don’t miss these concerts.

You can find them from Spokane to Bellingham, Tacoma to Skagit Valley. But wherever you find yourself, be sure to find these unforgettable concerts.

Live performances

There is nothing like a live performance. No matter how huge, 3D or XD a screen might be, it is still a screen, and there is just something indescribable about being in the same space as actors, props and unfolding stories.

Besides the major area theaters (like the 5th Avenue, Seattle Rep and ACT – all of which are absolutely great) local and much smaller venues offer an experience much more direct, and yes, intimate than the big stages.

Among these in the South Sound are Lakewood Playhouse, Tacoma Little Theatre and Theatre NW.

And, of course, venues like Dukesbay. In short, if you want independent and “fringe” theatre, here it is.

Tucked away in the upper chambers of The Merlino Art Center (multiple relatively steep steps are required) you can find one of Tacoma’s truly remarkable hidden treasures.

The current Dukesbay production is “Taking Leave”, the story of a Shakespeare professor who is losing his grip, thanks to Alzheimer’s, and is not sure what world he is actually living in. His three daughters struggle to help him keep his bearings and identity.

You can see performances on weekends until April 7.

Editor’s note: I auditioned for the main role, but even though I find myself living the part, they chose a more experienced actor.

If you’d like to see more of the backstory of Dukesbay, look here – and if you can feel the “acting bug” emerging, stay tuned for future audition opportunities here –

The Vernados Circus

If you want an experience that is nostalgic, funny, memorable, captivating, exciting, and most of all fun, you need to catch the Vernados Circus. It is fully human-powered – no animals or special effects – just human beings doing things most of us never imagined any human being could do.

And if you think it is fun to watch – and it is – you can tell that the performers are having even more fun doing what they love. They are having at least as much fun as anyone in the audience.

At the end of every show, the entire cast of the circus stands on stage and welcomes kids of all ages to join them in a farewell/congratulations photo shoot.

It just might make you want to run off and join the circus!

In short, if you care about your mental health or social life, or just want to encounter, instead of stare, put down that device, go for a walk, support your local artist or see a friend.

But above all, slow down, put away the pixels, and live a life without a device in your hand. Even for a few minutes. Once you get used to it, you just might like it.