I have a love/hate relationship with technology. For the record, I am an electronic musician for a living. My entire income is based on the daily use of cutting edge audio/video technology, as well as the ability to connect to a worldwide audience via the internet in order to share my work (Don’t think that I don’t see the irony in all of this). However, the fundamental reason why I use this technology, is to connect with people emotionally via music, and maybe even more importantly, people themselves on a more personal basis.
But how much technology is too much? Is it possible that our inability to be still, or to be alone with our thoughts, has created an unhealthy distraction from reality? Have we completely forgotten about the real world right in front of us? Do we care anymore?
Here are 9 vital reasons for disconnecting from technology a little more often.
1. We’re more disconnected from one other than we’ve ever been before.
Yes, I know, this one sounds like a huge cliché, and also absurdly counter intuitive when you think about what the internet was originally designed for, but take a look around you… Everyone is staring into their smartphones almost every second of the day, in practically every social situation you can think of. You might be at dinner with someone, doing it right now. When was the last time you put the phone down and simply enjoyed an uninterrupted conversation with the person you were with? We have a very finite amount of time on this earth. Don’t throw away the opportunity to spend quality time with the people you care about most, because they’ll be gone before you know it.
Plus, nothing says “I really don’t give a shit about you” more than staring at your phone when you’re with someone.
2. It distracts us from fixing broken things about ourselves and our society.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that I really started addressing a number of personal issues that I damn well knew needed some attention. For years, I filled my time with anything and everything I could find in order to ignore the potholes in my life. These days, there are an unlimited number of websites, apps, video games, etc. that we have access to, that we could endlessly distract ourselves with, but is this really making us better people?
In the famous (and wise) words of Henry Rollins – “No such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as down time. All you got is life time.”
Put down the tech for a second and write down a list of things you want to change. Maybe they’re personal things, or maybe they’re problems with the world at hand. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Next, go out there and change them. It’s as simple as that. Because here’s the thing… one day we’ll all be out of time, and there’s nothing satisfying about regret. Plus, excuses suck.
3. Social media feeds our unhealthy addiction for acknowledgment and constant attention.
We all do it. It’s part of our nature as human beings to want to be accepted, acknowledged, and loved by those around us. But is sitting there on your phone hitting the refresh button on Facebook every minute or so, waiting for the next “like” to come in from your 17th selfie of the day really necessary?
Everyone wants to be liked. I get it. But it seems so obvious to me that, perhaps, going out there and doing something in real life that makes you likeable, is a better way of garnering the appreciation and/or adoration you’re so desperately craving. Plus, let’s be honest, there are only so many selfies you can take before it just looks sad. C’mon, you’re better than that.
4. Social media has created a nearly unattainable image of what we think our lives should be like.
The thing about social media is that we only really post the highlights of our lives. We’re so afraid of being our authentic selves, for fear of rejection from others, that we only ever share our happy life events, or the attractive photos of ourselves. This, of course, makes perfect sense since we live in a world where the media constantly shoves the façade of perfection down our throats on a daily basis.
Nobody has a perfect life. Nobody. Not you, not me, not your favorite movie stars. Be real. The world needs more of that. And by the way, you’re beautiful just the way you are. Start believing it, already.
5. Too much technology disrupts our sleeping cycles.
I know this, because I’m currently dealing with it. I sit in front of a computer almost 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I have problems sleeping on a nightly basis. Poor sleep has been linked with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, weight gain, reduced immunity, and some studies have found there’s a relationship between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure or heart disease. I’m currently working on fixing this one, myself. I only mention it here because I suspect I’m not the only one who’s afflicted by it.
6. We’ve greatly limited our real-time world view by watching life around us through our devices.
I was watching a movie not too long ago called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and remember a scene that made me think deeply about this very subject. Walter finds Sean O’Connell (a prolific photographer he’s trying to track down over several countries) in the Himalayas, while he’s attempting to photograph the rare and elusive snow leopard. The moment Sean sees the Leopard through the lens of his camera, he decides at the very last moment to not take the picture, and instead, just enjoy the moment. Profound.
People can’t even seem to endure a music concert these days without watching the entire event through their phones. Let this sink in for a second: We’ve limited our view of the world to a tiny LCD screen, no bigger than our hand. That’s like watching “The Last Jedi” in black and white on an old tube T.V. with rabbit ear antennas. News flash, people: The greatest show on earth is happening all around you. You don’t need a device to experience it.
7. Technology can sometimes compromise our safety.
Every year in the U.S., almost a half million people are injured or killed in traffic accidents attributed to the combination of texting and driving.
8. Human beings aren’t wired to receive as much input as we’re currently exposed to.
There was an interesting article on a medical website that I read recently, which I will sum up in one sentence. Too much information at once is bad for your brain. Think about it for a second. Every day we’re constantly besieged with more information than we can possibly process. Things like social media (likely, more than one platform), emails, texts, Netflix, etc., all on top of our already complex and stressful lives.
Perhaps removing a few unnecessary things from your daily tech lineup might make life a little easier to manage, and lower your stress levels a bit.
9. Because the real world is a beautiful place.
Unplug for a bit, go outside and do something. Feel the sun on your face. Go hiking through a beautiful forest. Visit a brand-new country that you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Ask someone you like out on a date. Write music or paint something spectacular. Do something nice for someone else. There’s a beautiful world out there just waiting for you show up to the party, and you don’t need any technology in order to do it.
Most importantly, just be present. Your phone will be waiting for you when you get back. I promise.
Written by Jesse Scott (Summer Channel)