Technology is likely the most dynamic industry that experiences exponential growth every year. Whole keynote talks are dedicated to the release of a new phone with thousands of people in attendance, and then even more lining up in store to be the first owners of the latest handheld gadgets.
We are fascinated by social media and the latest apps that allow us to express ourselves on a public platform. However, are we really using social media to be, as the name would suggest, more social?
The interesting, and often ironic observation that has been made by many about technology and the social media movement is it’s inherent ability to both connect and build barriers between people. Take, for example, your cell phone. It has the ability to connect individuals thousands of kilometers apart as if they’re right next to each other, yet when you walk into most coffee shops these days, people who are physically right next to each other seem divided and buried in their phone screens. Instead of experiencing a concert, or once in a lifetime event firsthand, you often see youth of today experiencing these social situations through their phone screen, making sure to record and document each moment to share later with their followers.
I’m totally guilty of this. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram, it’s almost exclusively concerts, selfies, and food pictures. So rest assured, I am in no way being critical of those who are engaged in this practice, as I am one of them.
We’re simply adapting to the times. This generation happens to be one that has technology and social media integrated into almost all of life’s circumstances. Life events such as babies being born, to travelling the world, to having dinner with friends, to even purchasing your favorite fall-themed caffeinated beverage with a backdrop of coloured leaves are all being documented with the perfect filter. We are constantly documenting, posting, and reading other’s social media but amidst all this, we lack authentic connections. Humans are social creatures – without true social interactions we are in a way, betraying our very nature.
For that reason, it’s important that we, as frequently as possible, take a break from all this information.
While I’ve already admitted to being a consumer and distributer of social media, I know there is importance in taking time away from my phone, computer and television.
So what are some key concepts to help us disconnect from technology to reconnect to ourselves and those around us?
Don’t be afraid of being bored.
In some cases, addiction to social media stems from a fear of being bored. Again, I am a prime example of this. Whenever I have “nothing to do”, my first instinct is to reach for my phone and check Instagram. What have people posted? Should I post? What funny pictures can I find today?
Some psychologists argue that boredom is a prerequisite for true creativity. As children, who were of a generation that lacked tablet computers and cell phones, when we were bored, we eventually transformed into different people to pull us out of our boredom. Some of us became artists, who painted pictures. Some of us became carpenters who built structures out of cups and popsicle sticks. Others became nature junkies searching for interesting rocks to skip across ponds. This is partly why the advent of adult colouring books has become popular to this generation. We want to return to simpler times.
“Disconnect to reconnect” doesn’t mean that your disconnected time is solely meditation or time where you do nothing. It just means doing something unplugged. If you like to paint, paint something. If you like to write, grab your notebook. If your a musician dust off your guitar or piano keys. Do something that comes purely from you that is not influenced by others. Tapping into your inner creativity will help re-acquaint you with your true self.
Give yourself time to “power down”.
Before bed, give yourself at least an hour or two where you do nothing on your computer, television, or cell phone. Firstly, studies have indicated that light from our devices is perceived by our brains the same way that photons of sunlight during the daytime hitting our retinas are. Essentially we’re tricking our bodies into thinking it’s daytime during the night, thus delaying our ability to go to bed. Secondly, when you don’t have reminders of your “to do lists” or instant access to social media, it allows us to reach a level of natural calm before bed without stressing out over answering those emails.
Keep your phones at bay when interacting with friends
Probably the most important concept to me personally, is to make sure that I am giving all of my attention to those around me. Getting together with friends, I find, gets harder every year to coordinate, as people’s schedules and personal lives get busier. I want to cherish the moments I do have with those important to me, and make sure I honour their commitment to our friendship by being present whole-heartedly with them in that moment. Put your phone on silent, and put it out of sight. Listen to your friends. It’s so much more important to be engaged with those who matter to you than to post that picture of the artisanal doughnut you had the other day, perfectly plated and filtered.
When you have time, meditate.
Previously we posted a quick and easy guide to starting a meditation practice (see article here) and that falls directly in line with this concept of disconnecting. Silent time with yourself to breathe, and focus inwardly is so important in a generation where we’re constantly stimulated and bombarded with information.
Give yourself the luxury of purposefully doing nothing. It’s such a cleansing practice, and so easy to do. Just find a comfy place to sit, close your eyes, and breathe.