Are you surgically attached to your phone? Or maybe it’s your kids that are? Does the sound of the Play Station or Xbox ring in your ears just a little too much? Are you physically able to ignore the “ping” or “whoosh” of a new email landing in your inbox?
We’ve all been there. Sitting in a meeting you sense your phone vibrate & feel the frustration of knowing you can’t look at it…yet. Standing in a queue, a little bored, you pull out your phone to fill those few spare moments (during which you could have actually switched OFF instead of logging ON…). Whether your “thing” is social media, Candy Crush or podcasts, the common thread is there: we simply can’t do without tech! Or can we?
TECH: GOOD OR BAD?
We all know that there are massive advantages to technological advances in so many areas of our lives, but we must also be aware that the new digital world holds threats as well as benefits. A couple of years ago many people would have brushed this conversation aside, but today we have become SO tech dependent that most of us are at least a little concerned…
We are so attached to our tech, and so permanently “wired” (which, let’s remember, wasn’t even in the dictionary a few decades ago) that it’s easy to forget how not to be wired. We have simply become massively tech dependent:
- we use our mobile phones, ipods, laptops, tablets, pc’s daily
- we rarely travel without our satnav
- we rarely shop in a shop: it’s all online
- we’ve forgotten how to look up something in an encyclopaedia: it’s just so much faster on Google
- God forbid we’d write a letter!! Emails are so much quicker
Don’t get me wrong: technology has allowed us to move forwards in leaps and bounds in endless ways, and it can be absolutely fabulous on many levels. But we really do live in a “one-click-society”, and it is taking its toll on both our mental & our physical wellness…
- When we used to read maps, we had to use our brain to decipher & analyse. We had to be creative, & we had to utilise spatial orientation
- When we used to shop at the supermarket, we often walked long distances up and down aisles with a shopping trolley (a mini cardio workout), & then we would carry several heavy bags at least as far as the car, & sometimes much further (muscle strengthening)
- When we used dictionaries & encylopaedias we actually had to know the alphabet!!!
- When we used to write letters, we had to use spelling, punctuation and grammar – now “Word” does it all for us
THE IMPORTANCE OF “CONNECTION”
And through all of this we & our children are slowly losing our ability to understand the real, tangible world around us…
We are also losing our ability to understand each other. We evolved to be tribal creatures: we lived in large groups and were naturally social creatures. (It is interesting to note that being forced into social isolation actually invokes our fight or flight mode as the brain recognises loneliness as a threat). Research actually shows that stress hormone levels tend to be higher in lonely people, and yet our “social” side today is oh too often engrossed in “social” media…which is anything but sociable.
We need to embrace tech and all it can offer us, but if we are also to maintain true “wellness” then we have to find a way to temper & to balance our use of it. [If you would like to download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech” click here].To top it all off, it IS addictive: social media & emails create an anticipation loop whereby we are eagerly awaiting the next “ping”. Most of the time, the awaited email doesn’t live up to our expectations, which then causes a dopamine dip, hence the dopamine loop:
anticipation > dopamine release > reality > dopamine dips > anticipation……& so on
All of this leads to anxiety.
Incidentally, the ‘Gaming Loop’ when our kids are waiting for the next “skin” on Fortnite is very similar…
Enough doom & gloom! There has to be a way out, yes? Let’s hope so…
OUR “MODERN” WORLD: PROGRESSION OR REGRESSION?
One of the less discussed aspects of this tech revolution is that the sheer speed at which things have moved forwards in technology just cannot be matched by man’s natural, linear ability to change. The rate of progression in tech is simply off the scale (90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years!) & we just can’t keep up with that.
This, I believe, holds some of the answers. As science & electronics race ahead of us they remind us how primitive we still are in many ways, which suggests to me that we should embrace this. I firmly believe that many of the ‘old school’ habits & rituals that are fast becoming popular are doing so in reaction to this technological surge forwards that we just can’t match.
- Meditation & mindfulness are now “in”: some of the earliest written evidence of meditation was in 1500 BC
- The Paleo Diet is now very “hip”: it harks back to our primitive habits as hunter gatherers (believed to have originated some 1.8 million years ago)
- Essential oils inhabit the modern mum’s medicine cabinet as natural remedies: they were used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans
GOING BACKWARDS TO MOVE FORWARDS
So what’s the solution? I think we need to move backwards to counterbalance the surge forwards: to utilise time tested rituals as our antidote to this modern world we live in.
- If we become MINDFUL of our phones, we can consciously stop & think “would it be so terrible if I don’t open that text straight away?”
- If we embrace the HUNTER GATHERER philosophy and habits our bodies will be so much better able to cope with the stress that tech (& plenty of other 21st century habits) provoke
- If we take our shopping experiences back INTO THE SHOPS we will enjoy a tangible experience not a virtual one, and are more likely to be awake to (or mindful of) what we actually buy
- If we are genuinely SOCIABLE with each other (rather than totally socially isolated on social media) we will make a move back towards tribal times & those healthy habits that genuinely heal body & mind…
Bill Gates said:
“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”.
Personally, I prefer Isaac Asimov’s view:
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”
To me, the message remains the same: we NEED an antidote to tech, and at the risk of “over-quoting”…
If you feel it’s time to take action & do something about your own “tech habit” (or someone else’s), then do download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech”: a highly actionable guide which provides a step-by-step process by which to get on top of digital dependence.