“You can’t upload love, you can’t download time, you can’t Google all of life’s answers. You must actually live some of your life.” ~ author attributions vary
A recent TIME mobility survey polled 5,000 people and found that 84% of participants couldn’t go a single day without their mobile device, with 25% admitting that they checked their phones every 30 minutes. With so many ways to check in and let the world know exactly what you’re doing and when, many feel pressured to maintain their online identity, tweeting, and over-communicating around the clock.
That’s not all bad, but it’s not all good, either. More and more, many people live under the expectation of constant connection. The digital age brings with it many blessings, especially in terms of ready information and instantly accessible research. We know issues, developments and stories instantly, promptly communicate them to friends and colleagues, and get instant feedback. Some ask, is this critically important?
How often do we find ourselves reading or posting to social media instead of socializing with family and friends — or tweeting life as observers rather than living it? Is there balance? Does there need to be balance?
There is a technology backlash that has been gaining momentum over the past few years. The idea? Unplug yourself and reconnect with an analog way of life. Oddly, the epicenter of this movement is the San Francisco Bay Area, also home to the tech-saturated Silicon Valley. Why? Because people are finding that being digitally tethered distracts them from more meaningful interactions.
At the heart of this movement is getting back to a purer way of living: rediscovering hobbies, using one’s hands, getting outdoors, and having conversations that aren’t mediated by bits and bytes.
Here’s an ironic observation: All of our devices have rechargeable batteries and in order to recharge, they all need to be plugged in. Unlike our rechargeable toys, we often need to unplug — in order to recharge.
If you’re someone who wants to unplug or not always be “on,” these three ideas may help to shift your digital device dependency. Who knows, they may even yield less stress.
- Use technology to master technology. Block your email or Internet access so you’re not tempted. As an example, Apple users can use the program “Freedom” to disable networking from their computer. That way, they can concentrate on what they need to get done, and can only get online by going through the hassle of rebooting.
- Find something better to do. It’s natural to flip through your Facebook news feed or channel surf when there’s seemingly nothing better to do. To mitigate these sessions, create other options. Craft a list of hobbies or activities that you really like, then choose one of those alternatives instead. Bake, read a book, draw, play basketball.
- Set limits. Consider “lobotomizing” your smartphone by killing your data plan, which means you can only access the Internet through WiFi and not at every red light. Then, when you’re sitting at a railroad crossing, instead of being on your phone, look at the graffiti on the boxcars going by. Would that be so bad?