Just before I moved to California, I was going stir crazy. I was taking live, in-person classes that included a substantial amount of time spent on the computer for online reading material, online “discussions”, and typing up papers. I felt like my life was being wasted away in front of a screen. My dreams began to take the shape of me decisively throwing my computer in the ocean and living on the beach in a sort of simple, real existence.
Remembering that, it’s hard to reconcile the substantial amounts of data usage and screen time I use on a daily basis. For so long I only wanted to escape technology’s hold on me, but now I electively carry around mini computers in the form of a tablet, mp3 player, and smart phone.
To be fair, I will say that technology has advanced in the last few years, and it has made things easier to keep up with. Online appointment books tend to be more secure, organized and accessible than paper ones. Kindle keeps your place in a book better than a bookmark. News, reviews, directions, email, and other important information is readily available with some very basic apps. Also, people expect you to be more on top of these things than ever before. You would miss a lot by not checking your inbox for a few days; sometimes you would miss a lot by not checking your inbox at least once a day.
However, being consumed with the cyber world takes away from what can be taken in and experienced in the real world. While a great playlist can push you through a long run, you miss hearing your feet pounding the ground and how steady your breathing is. Similarly, it’s a give and take for social media. You can keep up with friends across the country with posts on Facebook, but you miss what’s going on with the friend sitting across the table from you waiting for you to check your updates.
The fix for these downfalls are going to be more good habits that force moderation. Last week I curbed my phone game addiction by cornering it into a weekend only activity, and that worked pretty well. I think it’s smart to do the same for other technology. This week, I’m tapering down my email and Facebook usage. Email, for me, is important to check multiple times a day to keep up with my job. However, I don’t need to check it all the time. I’m setting two consistent times to check my inbox and respond to messages. Facebook is only going to be a once a day quick check, and I’m hoping to cut it down more (of course, with exception for when I need to gather guinea pigs for these articles).
There are so many distractions online, that it’s easy to waste a lot of valuable time if we don’t use technology with clear purpose. However, with some restraint and perspective, we can have it all- the benefits of high-speed information and the ability to stay grounded in the here and now.