A note on addiction & the middle road
I have been following David Gillespie since reading his first book Sweet Poison. The book affirmed my strong intuition and the direction of my fledgling business at the time - that the sheer volumes of sugar we consume in our modern diet are extremely damaging.
After experiencing gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy (I was to go on to experience it with my second as well, despite a complete diet overhaul etc… so there is an element of inherited condition here) this lived experience and intuition ultimately led me to partner with my Aunt and create an alternative baked goods business in 2008 in Sydney, that was completely sugar free plus other things free - well before this was a funky/fad thing to do.
I still bake (some of these original recipes can be found on my site), still read those early books of David's and still keep our home diet as low in sugar as feasible. Allowing for times like Easter and parties etc.
AND the subject of David’s new book resonates with me yet again.
Fast forward to today and a life spent daily in the social media / digital communications sphere with my consultancy Felt. And this is another area of grave concern I hold. There is no doubt in my mind that my kids are addicts. Truly.
I know because I am too, its my job, and I see adults around me everyday who are the same. Drawn constantly back to their screens mid conversation, mid child request, mid down time. But? I had 20 + years to develop pathways in my brain pre -computers, mobiles and smartphones and my parents over 40 years. (Remember this next time you feel frustration at an older person not understanding technology. They are waging trench warfare just to get neural pathways built to understand WTF a screen even is!). Our kids? Their brains are wired for the addiction, from the get go.
In our house we implement rules of engagement around screens. None whatsoever before school, TV only after 5 during the school week and agreed hours over the weekend. Friday nights are ‘fat arse’ - for blobbing and treats. But by Friday they are salivating for their screens, sprinting in the door to get to them and can't really connect because their drug is available again at last!
I had a Rudolf Steiner Education and I saw well what complete removal of modern life caused in kids I went to school with - this extreme also doesn't work in my opinion. We were the kids who knew what Biodynamic meant, over 30 years ago. Sugar free, TV free and often fun free! 😉 were common threads among the younger members of our community. But boy we knew our way around a bushwalk or nature play. As a parent now, that sounds like perfection to me, don’t you think?!
David Gillespie is so concerned he is advocating complete removal, apart from school requirements. And? I know he is right. 100% right.
But my Steiner upbringing also taught me what complete removal can cause - social isolation and obsession/ addiction in its own right. So… what’s the answer? I am just not sure except to inhabit the middle road - be really mindfully limited in our usage, acknowledging that this is their culture. Be tough around these rules. Say no to certain platforms altogether. And please please DON’T let them on social media until they are legally allowed to be (which is 13+ across all the platforms). Older if you can push it. They simply don’t understand the vastness and accessibility of that world as children - it’s beyond their comprehension. And it is vast. Vast, ugly, incredibly insincere and completely prescriptive.
Plus parents, PLEASE STALK YOUR KIDS ONLINE. It’s not a breach of their privacy, it’s part of your job. The things we see everyday across the social environments we inhabit for Felt, I don’t want my kids seeing. They will, eventually no doubt. But just not yet.
So… What do you think?