I have a confession. A confession that disturbs me and needs to be addressed. I am a complete technology addict. Receiving a text message gives me a blissful, momentary high. A day without access to the internet is a sad day. If a couple of days go by and I haven’t signed onto Facebook, I get antsy and feel out of the loop. This loathsome habit isn’t exactly an insightful revelation that came from deep sole searching or a problem unique to myself. I’m sure almost everyone reading this is probably just as addicted as I am.
I mean sure, there are far worse things to be addicted to and I’m not harming other people by logging onto Facebook five times every day. I’m not even sure I am hurting myself. Is this “addiction” hindering my ability to obtain delight from life’s simpler pleasures or some other Buddha like ability to obtain happiness from one’s own inner peace? What I do know is that your likely addiction and mine can interfere with the quality of interpersonal interactions, focus in work, and other activities deserving of one’s undivided attention.
Only last year when I was still in college, I would go to class and at least half of the people in attendance would not be paying attention to the lecture. They would be either a) texting, b) shopping online, or c) on Facebook. These days when go on a date, frequently my date will begin randomly texting somebody while pretending to listen to me at the same time. Not okay! It’s like everyone is perpetually bored and needs to use technology to alleviate themselves from their sorry state of boredom.
Given that a new year has begun and it’s time to implement our resolutions for self-improvement, why not put in the effort to disengage and take a vacation from technology? If you are in school, you might do better on your exams and can reconnect with yourself, your family and friends. It would be hard to imagine going completely cold-turkey on technology, and after all, technology does have its merits, but with a few simple modifications, you might find the holiday season to be that much richer. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Host tech free dinner parties. Inform guests that cell phones are persona non grata. Hosts can offer a “tech check” where guests can check their phones at the door and claim them once the party is over.
2. Make exercise a time to connect with yourself and leave the distractions and stress of your every day behind. Create motivating playlists with your favorite music to keep you focused and pumped during your workouts, but leave gadgets that connect you to the outside world, inside your locker.
3. Implement a “tech curfew”. Let your friends and family know that at a certain time, you will not be available. Establish that time and turn off your technology. Without chimes and reminders that you have mail, a text message and constant Facebook updates that pull for a response, you will claim a lot of extra time for yourself and perhaps reconnect with something called relaxation.
4. Tech charge time. Leave the house willingly for a few hours without an form of technology. At first you may be uncomfortable with how naked you feel as you re-experience everyday activities without your phone, but after the initial shock you will be surprised at how liberating it is to NOT be accessible. Of course, make sure you will be safe without your phone and let people know where you will be before going phone free.
It never is a bad time to reconnect with family and enjoy some time to ourselves. Our Digital Self needs a break too, so why don’t you and I turn off our BlackBerrys, Droids, and iPhones and tune into opportunities to be tech free-not all the time, but enough to feel a nice change.