With every Facebook post you like, tweet you send, or question you type into Google, you’re giving the internet strength. Feeding the algorithms. Paying the advertisers. You’re also helping to fill server farms that will ultimately be replaced by bigger server farms, effectively anchoring the internet in the real world. This is all sweet and rosy, if the internet-human relationship is mutually beneficial. But it’s not clear that it is.
In some ways, our nonstop online lives are bringing us closer. But at least as often, the relentless pace of social media, email, and constant pings and beeps only serve to pull us further apart. And all this tech is certainly bad for our health and happiness: Research links social media to depression and high-speed internet to poor sleep. Simply having a phone visible during meals has been shown to make conversation among friends less enjoyable.
It’s probably hard to imagine life without a high-powered computer in your pocket or purse at all times, but it’s worth remembering that you’re still an autonomous being.
That said, these effects aren’t inevitable. Not yet, anyway. It’s probably hard to imagine life without a high-powered computer in your pocket or purse at all times, but it’s worth remembering that you’re still an autonomous being. You can decide how often and in what way you interact with the internet. And if you talk to the researchers, authors, and entrepreneurs who understand digital technology best, you discover that many of them already have.
We reached out to eight digital experts to find out how they maintain a (reasonably) healthy relationship with technology. All agreed that push notifications are evil, so you should go ahead and turn those off right now. Some of the experts even said they keep their ringers and text notifications off, at least some of the time. Beyond that, they all had unique strategies for defending themselves against the intrusive, obnoxious, and possibly destructive effects of technology.