The irony is that if you’re reading this, you’re online. But, let’s talk about the dangers of being too connected to our technology and virtual world.
Are you addicted to technology? How many hours a day do you spend on your computer, phone, tablet? Or is it easier for me to ask you how many minutes a day you do NOT spend on your computer, phone, or tablet?
Let’s look at some of the problems with being digitally over-connected.
Great Reasons to Unplug
According to Alice G. Walton on Forbes.com, below are the top six reasons to mindfully use technology while unplugging on purpose, at times, for maximum quality of life.
It Might Just Save Your Job (and your marriage)
In today’s competitive workplace, you might feel that being available any ol’ time of day gives you an advantage. Not so. When you are constantly replying to emails from bosses and co-workers after hours, you are not being present to your spouse, children, friends, and YOU. If you are not properly resting and recharging your batteries, you are more likely to burn out and be less productive, which makes you LESS competitive in the workplace.
It Will Improve Your Concentration and Present Moment Awareness
If you pride yourself on being a multitasker, chances are you’re actually doing less than those who focus on one thing at a time, and you also tend to be more impulsive (e.g. online shopping followed by buyers remorse when the package arrives in the mail). Again, how this behavior impacts your personal relationships is a key question. How present can you be in a conversation with your children if you are simultaneously listening to stories about their day and putting the final touches on the your quarterly sales wrap up?
There Are Better Ways to Feel Good
The internet seems to be the new substance to abuse. Many people feel they MUST check their phone every time an alert sounds informing them they have been “liked” on Facebook or mentioned on Twitter. We’ve pretty much become like Pavlov’s dogs. An interesting study published in theweek.com shows that “intermittent reinforcement” (anticipation of a reward that comes with just enough frequency)—in the form of texts, tweets, and various other social media—releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for pleasure. But like any hit of addictive substance, the pleasure is short lived and leaves you craving more.
Your Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers Do Not Replace the Real Deal
Social media does not make us more social. In fact, too much living on social media can create the reverse effect. Your behavior online is not always in line with how you would respond or react to other humans in a face-to-face situation. The anonymity of social media can lead to increased development of the false self or worst self. A wonderful spoken word poet and pal, Marshall ‘Souful’ Jones, has a three-minute performance piece from TEDx Montreal that eloquently speaks to this exact phenomenon called Touch Screen.
Your Bed Will Thank You
I’m a big believer in getting quantity AND quality sleep, and one of the biggest culprits I found in taking longer to fall asleep is not only the stimulation from channel surfing on tv and catching up on emails, but also the light emitted from electronic devices. Try this: One hour before you go to sleep, stop sitting in front of the computer and TV and switch off all electronic devices. Look around your bedroom: the alarm clock that glows in bright red, the charging indicator on your cell phone, the monitor on your computer, the DVD clock and timer. Each of these takes a small toll on your sleep as each little bit of light can keep you from reaching deep restorative sleep. Cover or move the electronics. Light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
You’ll Be A More Considerate Person
Are you THAT person in the movie theater who actually answers your phone? Do you meet up with pals you haven’t seen in ages, only to stare at your phone the entire dinner? You would not whip out a crossword puzzle to do at a dinner out with friends, even if you are a little bored, because that would be considered incredibly rude. Please place texting in the middle of a meal in the same category. It may be increasingly acceptable behavior, but it comes at a cost and does not improve the quality of anything, in my opinion.
The bottom line is technology is convenient and necessary and is definitely our new normal, but, too often, we are so distracted by our computers, phones, and tablets that we become disconnected from our own lives. It’s so easy to miss out on really special moments right in front of us because we are mentally somewhere else.
Putting limits on your tech habits and giving your full attention to the present moment can help you fully “experience” your own life.
I want to challenge you to get honest about how much time you spend plugged in. Does it make you sweat for me to even suggest you be less tech addicted?
Try to create a sacred space for yourself every day that is free from technology and allows you to reconnect with your own life. For example, I do my very best to make Sunday a tech-free day and turn it all off while eating dinner with my husband and before bed and don’t turn it on until I’ve been awake for two hours.
I’m interested in your thoughts. I think this is a very common issue, and would love to hear your challenges and solutions.
I hope you have an amazing week, plugged into REAL life, and, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. For almost two decades, Terri has empowered companies, celebrities, professional athletes and individuals to Live Fearless and Free. Follow Terri on Twitter @terri_cole.