Are we too connected? Smart phones, tablets, TV, etc. What can we do about it? I’m going to share an experience with you in hopes you can relate and make one small change in your day that will increase your peace, happiness, and improve your relationships.
On a recent train trip to New York City I decided to set aside my smartphone and indulge in some good old-fashioned people watching. Since the adjacent train was traveling at the same speed, I was presented with a perfect opportunity. It was almost dark, but I was able to see the silhouette of each passenger. Their heads were tilted down and the light from their phone or device lit up their faces. I wondered what the train might have looked like 50 years ago. I pictured men in business suits with their newspapers stretched across their laps, women reading novels or writing letters to their loved ones, and kids playing “I spy”. Has life really changed? Almost every passenger was occupying their time with a phone, iPod, tablet, etc. What are they doing? They are likely still doing the same things, like catching up on the latest current events, reading novels, playing games or using social media or texting to keep in touch with loved ones. They are doing the same things but using a different vehicle.
So it seems we are doing the same things we were doing 50 years ago but the difference is we may be doing them too much. We have all of the answers at our fingertips, which creates a possible unhealthy connection with technology and a thirst for immediate answers. In the past we would have tried to figure things out and if unsuccessful, a trip to the local library may have been in order. We don’t allow ourselves to contemplate problems, think through situations, or find solutions without technology. We can easily find answers by looking them up. We can easily settle the score during a debate with a friend by googling. Are we too connected? Don’t get me wrong..technology is awesome, especially how it connects us to friends and family across the world. We don’t have to wait 2 weeks to receive a letter from our loved ones or wait for someone to get home to call you back. When I arrived home from vacation as a teenager, I used to go right to the answering machine and play all the messages my friends left me. I couldn’t wait to call them back, as we hadn’t talked in a week! I think we all reminisce about the days we were less connected and probably occasionally yearn for a peaceful cabin in the woods. Well we may not get that peaceful cabin, but we can create an hour or two daily to disconnect and recharge. Turning your phone off, or putting your phone in the basket for an hour or two in the evening allows you to think through that question that pops in to your mind. To focus on conversations with your loved ones. To be free from having to answer a text or email. To take a daily mental break.
We decided to issue a challenge and we hope you join us. For our family, when we get home, we will put all of our phones in a basket. We also won’t use the computer or TV until after dinner. You may decide another time of day works better for your family. We are going to try and go a couple hours per night free from connections from the outside world. It will be our time to enjoy each other’s company, learn about everyone’s day, and recharge for the next day without distraction.
Top 5 benefits of unplugging daily:
- Allows you to focus on the present. Studies have linked staying present to happiness. The more distracted one is during a task, the less enjoyable it is. So when you disconnect, you will increase your happiness by enjoying the moment.
- It’s healthy for your mind. Swedish studies have linked heavy technology use with mental health issues, like sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. Your brain will thank you for unplugging.
- You’ll be a better listener. Ever tell someone a story, as they are checking their phone? You may even do that when your kids are telling you that precious story about their day. Your nightly unplugging will give you an opportunity to give your loved ones your undivided attention, which really is priceless.
- Increase your productivity. Multi-tasking is a loser…really. When you unplug and are free from distraction, it’s amazing how much more you’ll get accomplished.
- Improves brain function. Studies have shown the brain needs recovery time to perform at it’s best, especially with memory retention.
Take the challenge and share this challenge with your loved ones. Ask them to take the challenge with you. While we all can agree technology helps us tremendously, too much of anything can be unhealthy.