Circadian Rhythms – Light & Darkness

By Bernie Bell

I was having a conversation with someone about circadian rhythms,the%20study%20of%20circadian%20rhythms.  and light and darkness, and later I was thinking how a lot of people in western civilizations never experience real darkness these days.  They go to bed – possibly street lights outside show through the curtains – they have an alarm clock with lit up numbers – they put their mobile phone next to the bed, turned on, glowing and ‘bing-bonging’ all night as emails etc come in.  We’ve lost the darkness of the cave – tho’ maybe they kept their fires going to deter animals?

In the security of places like Skara Brae there might have been real darkness, with the fire covered in ash, ready to be re-ignited in the morning, as in many old houses in Ireland which had the same fire burning for generations. 

And there will have been real darkness, even indoors, ever since then –  until gadgets with lights set on standby came along.

And the same goes for silence – who, in western civilizations, experiences silence now?  And silence matters as much as darkness as a place to go to gather yourself together without distraction.

Back to the phones by the bed…a lass I know was going on at me about how she wasn’t getting enough sleep as ‘friends’ were calling, emailing and texting her at all hours.

My advice was to turn her phone off and leave it in the living room when she went to bed, so it wasn’t even near enough for her to be aware of its presence.  She said that if she did that, her ‘friends’ would complain about not being able to contact her.  My advice was to ask those ‘friends’ why they weren’t in bed and asleep themselves.  Fair enough if they’re enjoying themselves – at a party or walking in the moonlight, but they don’t need to immediately contact her about it!  Though, that appears to be the way things are going these days.  I wrote the same advice to her again, in capitals…”TURN THE FECKER OFF.”

I get the impression that a lot of people, particularly  young people, are now experiencing  emotional troubles because they feel that they ‘have no-where to hide’.  The constant jibber-jabber of the Smartphone and Social Media leaves them feeling that they have no-where that is ‘their own’.

Maybe it’s not as straight-forward as turning them off, as it’s almost an addiction, and they get anxious if they’re not ‘connected’ all the time – feel that they’re missing out in some way.  So they would need to work at shifting their dependence on their gadgets gradually and carefully.

I have an elderly mobile phone which, in fact, no longer works, and Mike has a Smartphone – mainly because of work, but he doesn’t have it switched on most of the time.  People have asked are we not bothered about ‘missing something’.  We say that anything we need to know about, we’ll know about soon enough, and it’s not the end of the word if we don’t.  I’m surprised at how many  people we know who are otherwise thinking people fall for this ‘missing out if you don’t have the phone on’ baloney.

The increasing  domination of the machine is a cause for concern. They are useful as a tool – but they are now working us, as well as us working them. There’s more than one way for robots to turn on their masters. Asimov would have had a field day if he was around now.

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