Why We Should Disconnect to Reconnect

Technology – the Internet, computers, apps, iPods, tablets and smartphones, have all made their way into our daily lives and have definitely helped us to enhance it. Nowadays, we can easily have a video call via Skype with friends and family overseas or kill some time in the waiting room by playing games, or listening to some music. In fact, technology is the very reason I’m allowed to share my thoughts with you and the rest of the world. It’s definitely a great thing.

Yet, I do believe that some of us are using technology in the wrong ways, and I’m not talking about hacking. I’m talking about using so much technology that everything else eventually becomes secondary. It’s overconsumption. We’re using it in excess. Well, maybe not you, but someone you know. But it’s really not good for you.

Too much of anything is bad for you. Essentially, it’s about striking a balance. Too much yin or too much yang throws everything off. We were never meant to be tethered or connected 24/7 to any computer or device. We’re not Google’s servers, after all.

There are days that I don’t touch the Internet at all, just because I feel that I don’t need to. I take the time to do other things that don’t require the Internet, like writing by hand or walking. When you’ve spent too much time online or watching TV, then you’re losing valuable time to laugh, smile, dance, exercise and be with the ones you love. Now I’m not saying that Internet memes aren’t funny, but being accustomed to ONLY Internet memes isn’t exactly noteworthy.

There’s also research to suggest that the reason you can’t fall asleep after watching TV or surfing the web is because of the strong LED backlight. Apparently, it’s equivalent to standing in the sun for one hour. No wonder, huh? There’s also the concept of dirty EMF (electromagnetic fields), which some researchers say are to blame for insulin-resistance and cancer.

Social Awareness. Technology was invented for the purpose of enhancing our lives, not to overtake them. You miss out on social cues when you diss someone online; you don’t see the negative impact it has on them. I honestly believe that in general, it’s made us lose empathy with one another and is slowly pushing us on to become sociopaths.

Comedian Louis CK does a wonderful take on this and I think that’s what a lot of people are missing out on. You might think it’s just a young people’s problem, but it’s not.

My brother is on his laptop computer for several hours a day and it is hard to make conversation with him. My father’s choice is the iPad. He will happily sit in his recliner for hours either watching videos or surfing the web. Needless to say, no witty icebreaker would be able to break that barrier there. Sometimes I’m sitting in the living room when they’re both there simultaneously typing or tapping away and I can tell you this: they’re not really there.

I have friends that are literally tethered to their smartphones like a wifi hotspot. I’m not kidding you. They’ll constantly be checking their phones for messages while I’m sitting across the table from them. Whoa whoa whoa. Just stop, guys. Just stop. If you need to take a call or make one, I’m not going to be angry. Likewise, if you need to make a quick text home or something. But please, most messages can wait.

There is no time like the present and you should be enjoying it with the friends and family you have. You should be experiencing, you know, experiences.

Live in the moment. This is mostly for when you’re taking a vacation, but you can do it in your daily life too. Although there are great travel apps like Google Maps and Yelp around, sometimes you can just wing it. As far as I’m concerned, there is no genuine knowledge like a local’s. I found that my most happiest and scariest times travelling was when I didn’t have an iPod or a laptop to fall back on. I also went travelling with a disposable camera once and I actually enjoyed my trip more because I wasn’t always focused on taking the perfect shot.

You actually give yourself the chance to become human again, and learn stories from interesting people along the way. You don’t get caught up in the online reviews or the wrong directions that Google Maps can give out. You don’t get that chance to zone out to music or games like you do in the airplane. You’re forced to breathe, take a look around and enjoy (or hate) the scenery around you. There’s also an added bonus of less worry about your valuables getting stolen, when you’re not carrying many (if any) tech gadgets with you.

Staying Alive. I’m not kidding about this one. Walking and texting (or walking and calling for that matter) were never things that went hand in hand. If you watch this video of a woman in South Korea who almost got run over at a four-way intersection while she was chatting away on her phone, you’ll know why. I have also heard the unfortunate news of a girl my mother’s friend knew who died on collision because she couldn’t hear the car coming with her earphones on too loud. I’ve definitely been guilty of this more than once, but I’m just willing to admit it. Luckily for me though, it’s not something that I do anymore. And don’t even think about using your phone while you’re driving.

Apart from that, there’s also the risk that you could get robbed, kidnapped or killed just because you weren’t fully aware of your surroundings. So you don’t HAVE to take that call straight away and you could just give your ears a rest while you’re crossing the street. On a more trivial danger, people that walk and text have a greater chance of bumping into other people or other objects. That’s probably a more embarrassing thought than a real threat, though.

I guess it just comes down to this: are you really using technology to enhance your life or is technology ruling yours? You may be surprised to find out that there are things that you’ve been neglecting.

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