It’s not uncommon to overhear virtually any conversation and hear the words, Facebook, Instagram, Google, email – or text message. It is 2014, and billions of people across the globe are now virtually and digitally connected to one another and the world through the ease of technology. In so many ways, this has been a great time saver. (Or has it?) This new way of living has made things like keeping in touch with family and friends, managing businesses and gathering information on the go a breeze. Many people whole-heartedly believe in how life has been simplified by technology. And much like any of the new modern conveniences that have come our way over the past 50 years, once you have joined the technological highway – you may wonder what you would ever do without it?
Of course, not all this digital media is always a Godsend. For many people, being connected is easy – but disconnecting is nearly impossible. In fact, doctors today are finding that people deal with an internet outage, or a dead phone, or the lack of being able to login to something as trivial as facebook can cause full-blown onsets of anxiety from people of all ages and walks of life.
Then, there are conversely, the millions of folks who seem to bash and whine about the reliance that ‘everyone’ has on being disconnected. We are now having to relearn how to take a walk in nature without our phones vibrating in our pockets, and are becoming less aware of what it means to 100% present in what we are doing at the moment. We drive with technology, sit at the dinner table with it, check on things multiple times throughout the day via our digital world, and have seemingly found extra minutes in days that already seemed lacking in time – to waste…er, we mean spend online. Connecting is easy. Disconnecting? Not so much?
Perhaps one of the most ridiculous things about these new pushes for disconnecting from the digital world is that it really is easier than it looks. In fact, we have not found one device thus far that doesn’t come with an off or mute button. We have not found a drawer or a place in the house where a cellphone was unable to be turned off. Have not seen a scenario that could be carried out successfully even with a short lull in connectivity. And yet so many folks struggle with the OFF button. Whether it is the TV, or the I-Phone, or the DVD player in the car, the distractions that seem to keep us constantly on edge, constantly jumping from one thing to another, that enables us to multi-task almost too efficiently – can all be turned off.
It is not the devices that make it difficult, but the new mindset setting in that we somehow have to have our noses in to so many things at once lest we miss out. But miss out on what?
Chances are you have a device of some sorts. And chances are your life is filled with beeps, and tweets and whistles and bings that keep you jumping. Ring tones that beckon, and choices to be made about whether to finish a conversation or answer a text. In a study by Newsweek, 250 people ages 17 – 44, with their devices were put in a waiting room and texted and emailed multiple times to see just how many people could resist the urge to pick up their phone and ‘check.’ And with the exception of one woman whose phone was found to be on silent and who had immersed herself in a book – every other person reacted as quickly as their phone alerted them. It didn’t matter if they were in the midst of a conversation, or emailing, or writing notes. They all took the extra few seconds to check their device.
One of the biggest problems aside from the addiction factor, is that being constantly available, and constantly tuned in, leaves little time for the mind to rest and relax. It leaves little time for thoughts to be completed, for people to remember what it like to completely relax and run away from the often-stressful conditions of the world we live in. Sure, digital technology has also made a heck of a lot of things easier, and less stressful. We can now track our teens, and get emails on the go even if we aren’t in the office. We can call people anytime we want, or busy our times of boredom with status trolls on facebook. We have things to read and information to fill up our mind at our fingertips. And yet, this constant influx of information and knowledge and media, can also lead to a lack of self-knowledge and peace within. After all, we are called human – BEINGS, not human doing. That in and of itself seems to suggest that down time and the ability to just be, is likely part of our basic needs for happiness.
Just remember. When you are feeling overwhelmed or that perhaps the world you live in has incapacitated you, or left you with little room for a break – there is an easy escape route. The off button. We shouldn’t have to wander to an INTERNET-FREE café (yes that IS a new business model), or be forced to take a challenge, in order to recapture our ability to disconnect in the form of a little button that says OFF! (If you don’t know where to find it, check your owner’s manual!) Taking an expensive island vacation where cellphones and the internet are not available is not your only choice for disconnecting. YOU are still in CONTROl! And you just might find that a little disconnecting, helps you do some connecting of your own with the people that you love the most!