Professor's House

Does Today’s World Overwhelm You?

The family dynamic is changing drastically with the influx of technology. Nearly every family member today has some sort of electronic device that connects them to social media, or makes them available for constant texts and phone calls.

In fact, cell phones in general have made us so available all the time to all the people in the world, that it can be really tough to get a break. Years ago, once you left work – you were gone. If you were grocery shopping, you were unavailable until you got home to hear a voicemail. We could take our phones off the hook. We could go for walks, sit down, and watch television without always being on alert by the constant dings, dongs, whistles, and beeps of our electronic devices that literally make us constantly on edge.

For instance, when is the last time that you sat down with your kids or lover, or cooked dinner and heard your phone buzz, tweet or quack and didn’t immediately stop what you are doing to go and see what all the fuss is about. How often do you have conversations with other people only for them to be rudely interrupted by a cell phone call, beep, or ding? As if, the person on the other end of the phone is more important than the people actually in our physical presence.

Everyone would agree that the connectivity that we have today does make many things easier. It makes it easier for us to stay in touch with our kids and spouses and extended family. It makes sharing day-to-day life easier than ever. But is it also making us nervous? Is it also taking away from our ability to just be, and to just relax, and to just enjoy (without guilt or anxiety) our time away from it all.

How many times has someone called you on your cell phone and then texted you, and when you didn’t respond barraged you about it later. “Well, I called and texted you and you didn’t answer!” Is there some unwritten rule of etiquette today that we have to keep ourselves constantly available simply because we carry devices that enable people to reach us? Far too many people are buying into the thinking that our cell phones and other devices take priority over any and every other thing in our lives. We are more worried about not responding to a text, than we are about restoring face-to-face relationships with the ‘actual’ people in our lives – kids and loved ones included.

You hear so many stories about toddlers throwing their mom or dads phones in the toilets. So much so, that you almost have to wonder if these toddlers are trying to tell us something. Not only are they competing for attention from siblings and life, but they are also competing for attention from their parents with cell phones and technology.

The end result is that a lot of people have forgotten how to relax. Today, there are more people taking medications such as Xanax and Klonopin, and adults complaining of attention deficit disorder symptoms than ever before. And likely, this is because we have become so scattered and so dependant upon technology that we spend our waking hours on edge, waiting for the next ding and whistle, never finishing a sentence or a thought without being interrupted. Maybe instead of turning to anxiety medications and other ways to settle ourselves down, we just need to reduce the amount of stimulation that we receive on a daily basis.

It is also important to set some limits for yourself. If you sit down for dinner, or go for a jog, or want to enjoy some time shopping – it is no one else’s business. You are allowed; heck entitled – to be off the clock, off the horn, out of the loop for certain periods of time. Just because you have a cell-phone, doesn’t mean that you are obligated to answer every call, every time. You shouldn’t have to explain to others why you didn’t answer the phone, or why you didn’t text back. Years ago, when a phone line was busy, or you were out and about – you just were and people had to wait. Today, no one wants to wait for anything.

If you have problems relaxing, sleeping at night, find that your child is hiding your cell phone, feel generally anxious or nervous all the time, are constantly fidgeting with your phone – then try disconnecting for a while. Turn off the sound, or turn it off completely and give yourself a few uninterrupted hours each and every day to do what you need and want to do. Technology is supposed to make us more efficient and effective as people. However, it seems that the opposite is actually happening. Not only are we more nervous than ever before, we are also constantly on the go, on call, on edge waiting for the next text or email to pop in and interrupt the flow of our daily lives. This continual need to focus and refocus due to interruptions, this over stimulation from Facebook and Twitter, doesn’t enable us to have any opportunity throughout the day to just be, to just breathe, to just be still and focused in the quiet of our lives.

Today, one of the biggest complaints of people is that they feel overwhelmed, and feel like they have so much to do that they cannot think straight. Perhaps the real problem is that we are too invested in our technological strings to afford ourselves the time we need to relax and focus on what is truly important. Next time your phone dings or dongs while you are in the middle of something – rather than stop everything you are doing and rush to see what all the buzz is about, ignore it! Stay focused on what you are doing, stay invested in the conversation you are having. Whatever is on that phone, will be there when you get free to check it. And make sure that other people realize that just because you own a cell phone – doesn’t mean that you have a blinking OPEN sign 24/7. When we relearn to prioritize our lives, chances are good we will feel less overwhelmed and anxious.

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