Today we live in the "Information Age"-- an age where every day we are adding more information yet losing common sense. What happens when you have all the knowledge but lack the ability to interpret and implement that knowledge? It's like plugging a machine into an outlet but you can't turn it on.
Technology should always be a supplement for real communication, not a substitute. Once it becomes a substitute, we get the opposite of what we are seeking--disconnected.
Texting for instance, is an amazing tool. You can say something very succinctly without the drawn-out pleasantries. It's also helpful in documenting confrontation or softening the blow of a rejection. But as we all have experienced, when used in place of real, meaningful conversation, we lose inflection, sarcasm, and non-verbal communication. 93% of what is being said, is actually not said at all. So in texting, we are only getting 7% of the story! Is that enough to continue a conversation or connection long-term?
Everything in this world requires balance and management, and technology is no outlier. As our screen time is increasing with every passing month, it becomes more of a priority to balance our lives online and our real lives. Ever experienced that after dinner lull, when you're out with friends, and everyone disengages and pulls out their phones? The food has been eaten, the check is coming, what more is there to talk about right? Wrong. How quickly has technology come between true, organic connection?
What we don't often acknowledge is that we have full control of this ever-enticing addiction to turn to our phones instead of experiencing our surroundings. According to cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, it takes 21 days to form a new mental habit. That's less than a month to change your daily life! Here are some challenges to try to help you get out of the spiral!
5 Tips to Unplug:
1. Don't look at your phone the second you wake up. Allow yourself to roll out of bed, get ready for the day, look outside, make breakfast, interact with a housemate or family member, before you turn to the phone for all your emails, news, weather and social. Giving your brain a breath in the morning to engage with your surroundings is a great exercise. It will also help you stay centered when the pressures of the day begin to stack up against you.
2. When you go out to eat with friends, family or a significant other, turn off your phone (what?!) for the evening. Try to remember what it's like to truly connect with another human being with no distractions. If someone needs you, you can contact them after dinner is over. You know, like we did in 1999.
3. When going on a road trip, pull out an actual map and mark the course yourself. By doing this, you are engaging your brain and actually learning about your geographical surroundings before the trip. It also keeps you from being totally reliant on Siri, who (gasp!) can sometimes lead you astray.
4. Try to watch an entire movie at home with friends without any of you pulling out a phone or a laptop. This is a very hard one for me I'll admit! When did it become normal to be looking at two other devices while watching a movie? Over time, you lose the ability to focus on one thing for any length of time over two minutes, and well, the implications of that I believe are dire.
5. Get yourself outside in nature for 30 minutes a day. Even as I'm typing this, I'm itching to go outside. It's rejuvenating and your body needs it. Listen to the wind rustling in the trees, exchange smiles with a stranger, breathe in the fresh air. Doing this daily does a lot more for your mind, body and spirit than you think.
I'm challenging myself with these points above as well! Leave me a comment and let me know how week 1 goes!
As I have been out of my 8-5 job for the past few months, I have come to observe my city and the people in it a little differently. As my life rhythm has slowed down, I feel like I'm walking in slow motion and everyone else is on fast-forward! It seems that we are all going nowhere at an extremely accelerated rate. "Rush Hour" may officially be between 4:30 and 6pm, but really it never stops. Why is this? I think our culture has become addicted to being busy--because being busy translates to being successful, right?
Have you ever had a conversation where someone asks you how you've been and you reply, "Oh, I've been SO busy lately!" It's almost satisfying to admit isn't it? Like in that one simple statement you are validating that you're okay, you're successful, you're doing exactly what you should be doing. It doesn't give us much time to really evaluate why we are doing what we're doing; if our exhausting efforts are even contributing to the right places. Are we over-contributing? Do we know how to say no? When was the last time we said it?
In this season of reflection, I've stepped back and looked at my calendar and re-evaluated the things I give my time to. I've cut some things, and I've said no. What I've learned is that a happy life is a simplified life. Cut out the chaos and the clutter! It's just making you insane. Here are some things I've figured out so far:
1. Having fun is NOT a crime.
Even if there is a lot to be responsible for, and work is a huge percentage of your life, don't feel guilty for taking time for some good old fashioned fun! Play time refreshes us, connects us to one another and actually makes us more effective in our work.
2. Don't be the most responsible person you know.
The people you surround yourself with matters. Are you finding yourself always cleaning up their messes? Always being the shoulder to cry on or the ear to listen? Always being DD, or being mindful of finances, bills and the future? If that's the case, it's time to re-evaluate your friends. Find people that inspire you, that you look up to, that will be a weight off your shoulders to hang out with.
3. Time for reflection is critical for growth.
Even if you're the most extraverted person in the world, and love being around people, this is for you too. Take yourself on a date. Get coffee, go for a hike in a beautiful place, put on music in your room and just think. Think about your day: what went right? What went wrong? Why? How did you react to certain situations. Are you happy? Why or why not? What kind of changes do you need to make for tomorrow?
4. If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.
This quote has been my anthem in recent months as I've grappled for some kind of continuity in my life. Every day I'm trying to make a promise to myself to do something I've never done. That doesn't have to be jumping out of an airplane or eating squid, it can be approaching a problem in a different way, driving a different route home, striking up a conversation with the person at the checkout stand. It's amazing the shift you will see happen.
Next time you find yourself on that hamster wheel of busyness, jump off quick! Find your way out of the cage and don't be a follower. You'll be amazed what you will observe from that perspective.
Shelley's Inkwell blog is where non-fiction and fiction collide. It's a place for my life reflections and a place to escape into some really good stories. Sometimes that really good story is fiction and sometimes it's non-fiction. Because sometimes the best chapters in life are the ones we could never write ourselves.