Bigger. Better. Technologically Handicapped!
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” ∼ Albert Einstein
A couple of weeks back I read this quote and it really hit me hard. I couldn’t help but start thinking about the life that I was leading. I don’t really know how many of us feel that Technology has taken over our lives, it certainly did take over mine. By technology, I don’t really mean your mobile phones or your tablets or laptops. I feel technology is a conglomerate of gadgets, apps, social media, television, internet and much more; it feels like a never-ending list. We are living in a constant state of distraction. We are physically present at a particular place but our minds are constantly wandering around someone’s Facebook post or a tweet or an Instagram picture. Technology addiction has made lives suffocating. In today’s time, we all are living in a state of extremism; a person is either on a perpetual digital detox or they are completely addicted to technology. It’s pretty difficult for a person to find a balance between the two.
So now how do we bring that balance in our lives? This question had been going around in my head for a few days. Before I could find an answer to this I decided to go around observing people of all age groups and their obsession with technology. The results didn’t surprise me at all. From kindergarten kids to millennial’s, from our parents and now gradually even our grandparent’s everyone seems to be caught in this whirlwind. My father uses his cellphone while doing his daily morning exercise and concentrates more on the former than latter, what more do I say!
First talking about the kids these days; come to think of it I have no words to even start describing their obsession with phones, tablets, and television. It seems like their world just revolves around these three things. It saddens me to see how today the kids have completely forgotten how to play outdoor games and the joy one feels in doing physical activities. At times I fail to understand how do they even grab such things so quickly. A couple of months back I was on an outing with my cousins and two nephews aged six and four. Until that day I had neither used a selfie stick and nor had I clicked that many selfies (believe it or not); all thanks to my four-year nephew who taught me how the phone was mounted on that stick and how pictures were taken. I was utterly shocked to see a four old using the phone camera and making all the right settings to click the perfect picture. Trust me if someone were to ask me to do all of that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
The kids seem to be losing their innocence being caught up with the new-age world. Parents really need to limit the use of technology with their kids. They need to be outdoor, play, fall, learn and make friends; that’s how they grow; that’s how I grew. Stop making them puppets in the hands of technology. I remember this particular scene from the Movie Grown Ups, where Adam Sandler is saddened to see his kids stuck with their video games and I-Pads while on a vacation; and so one day he just picks both of his sons by their shirts and throws them into the river. The kids thoroughly enjoy their jump into the river; post that they begin to get more involved in doing outdoor activities. More and more parents should start doing this. Make their kids play real games!
Don’t even get me started about the obsession the millennials have with their gadgets. Everyone seems to be in a relationship with their Facebook or Instagram page. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not against posting things on social websites; I am against the constant urge to wanting to check their notifications all the time and missing out on the present moment. I’ve seen and experienced that people don’t even care that there’s someone sitting next to them and trying to make a conversation, all they care about is putting their head down and getting drowned in their notifications.
Facebook and WhatsApp seem to have killed great conversations and relationships. For god sake have a relationship with a real person, not their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. What time are we living in, when love is found and lost by swiping of the screen. Time and again we seem to be questioning our lives and judging others basis their posts, pictures, and tweets. Are we even being fair to ourselves? No! I have done that to myself and it was the cruelest thing that I could have ever done.
I believe these apps are there to connect us. But is it even true? Are we really connecting or are we going further away? I don’t think we are! I know a lot of people might not agree; to all of them I would make a kind request; think, just think and think deep, and if you still think otherwise, please do teach me the art of doing it.
With so many constant negative thoughts going on about technology in my head, one day I took this decision of turning off my phone and not using my laptop for one whole day. I was surprised with the result. My day was so much happier, stress-free and productive. I finished reading a book, wrote a lot, I had an amazing time with my family; which otherwise was taken up by useless browsing or television. I went for a long walk, meditated and made time for things that I actually enjoy doing like cooking and dancing. I cannot even begin to explain the joy that I felt within myself.
The next day when I woke up I thought going gadget free for a day was amazing, but in the current scenario and in the long run this wasn’t a permanent solution. I couldn’t keep up with this fast-paced world by completely stopping the use of gadgets. Hence I decided to find a balance in my life where I could use gadgets as well as make ample time for things which were actually meaningful.
I read a lot about how I could reduce the use of technology in my life, but couldn’t find concrete answers; everything seemed to be way too extreme. So I decided to find ways on my own. The first thing I did was delete all my accounts from social sites (except Facebook, I wanted to read about the few writers that I follow). I also deleted all useless apps from my phone it already felt so much better. Now I know not everyone is an anti-social like me and so they would not want to delete their accounts; fair enough; I wouldn’t suggest them to do so. But one could definitely limit their use. Post this I found out ways as to how I could limit my usage of technology.
Following are the few intakes that I would like to share so that we all use Technology mindfully-
- First thing first, do not start or end your day with an emails, notifications or messages. Things can wait!
- Don’t use technology for everything get yourself a clock or a watch to check the time, bring out those calendars and get yourself a notebook to write (writing improves memory) down important things. Try to limit looking at your phone or any other gadget. Don’t look at it for anything and everything. We don’t even realize that we might be taking out our phone just to check the time, but we end up checking more than just the time and there you go, you just wasted thirty minutes in just checking the time.
- Set a time every hour to check your phone Time box yourself. You don’t need to prioritise answering your phone immediately. It’s okay to be unavailable sometimes.
- Experience things through your senses not through the lenses of your camera or a five-inch screen. Be present! Enjoy the moment completely. Experience is for oneself, not to show it to others.
- Put your phone on airplane mode (I do it all the time) more often, especially while out with your friends or while spending time with your family. People don’t even put their phones in airplane mode while on an airplane when one cannot even receive notifications.
- Stop staring at your phone all the time rather just stare into space. You might just see something new or learn something valuable. Staring at the phone constantly is just not going to bring any peace.
- Create spaces at work and at home that is tech free. Allocate time for things that you really enjoy. Give yourself that much-needed break.
- Shut down your laptops rather than just putting them on sleep mode. When your laptop shuts down you shut down.
- Always do one thing at a time, don’t multitask- stop using your gadgets while eating; concentrate on the food. If you are distracted while doing something you don’t like, you’ll remain distracted while doing something you like.
- Get out more often, talk to real people rather than just talking online.
These are just a few insights that I applied to my life to make it a little less stressful and more productive. It’s impossible for all of us to stop using technology completely, I mean who are we fooling! But what we can do is limit it and make some real connections with real people and make our lives much happier.
Originally published at discovertorediscover.com on February 19, 2017.