For some, their electronics are more intimate companions than those flesh and blood beings with whom they share their lives. Smart phones, tablets, laptops and Kindles are cuddled closer to bodies than human loved ones.
According to a recent report, “The number of smartphones, tablets, laptops and Internet-capable phones (exceeded) the number of humans in 2013.” CNN indicates that there are pros and cons to tapping into techno. While it can be used to share information and provide a place for verbal foreplay en route to an in person rendezvous, it can also be like an uninvited third party on a date.
How did that happen and what can we do to change that dynamic?
Technology provides a sense of instant gratification and cyber connection whether or not we are in the company of another person. When we hear a sound that tells us someone online is wanting our attention, we instinctively turn away from whatever we are doing and with whomever we are engaged.
Andrea Cairella, LPC encourages in a HuffPost piece that we become aware of just how attached we are to our devices. “Your phone begins to feel more like an appendage; if misplaced it sends you into a lost tailspin.”
I have shaken my head sadly when at a restaurant, I have observed couples, friends and families looking down at their phones, instead of up at each other both while waiting for their meal to arrive and while eating. It replaces the uncomfortable silence between two people who used to stare into space at a table. We seem to desire fast food communication in which our immediate needs to connect are met at the speed of thought. It can become frustrating when these mini interactions replace heartfelt, soul deep communing.
Reasons to Take a Break
• We are human beings and not human doings who need to take the time to simply be present.
• The lights from the equipment may be over stimulating and prevent falling asleep.
• We can become so dependent on our devices that we don’t think for ourselves and go into panic mode without them.
• The people in our lives deserve our undivided attention when we are with them.
• There is a phenomenon called popcorn brain which is described as, “a brain so accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking that we’re unfit for life offline, where things pop at a much slower pace.” This according to David Levy, who is a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington, is what entices us to spend time touching metal and plastic than skin.
• Just like those who become “couch potatoes” by watching too much television, we can become immobile by spending too much time tapped into technology.
By way of coming clean, I admit that although I am a people person who interacts face to face with folks new to my circles, as well as long time companions, I still spend a great deal of time on the internet. I justify that it is because I network and write much of the day. I decided to tap into the wisdom of Ruth Weisberg who is a voiceover narrator, coach and journalist. Weisberg is an effervescent, loquacious communicator. Although she is tech-savvy, she is also people savvy.
Her fortune cookie insights had me smiling as I took them in.
She believes that we should be “heart wired rather than hardwired.”
We are “seduced by devices,” when we would be better off seduced by other people.
It benefits us and all of our relationships to “show up, look up and speak up,” rather than down at our electronic buddies.
Weisberg observes that, “The more we are distracted and distraught by devices, the less we are focused on True North.”
Some people get “intexticated” and develop “text neck” from looking down.
This dynamo’s daily routine begins in this manner:
“In the first hour of my day, I don’t check email, Facebook or phone. I go outside to check the sky and smell the air. I wake up on my own, rather than with a clock. I let the rhythms of the sky wake me up.” Before breakfast, she enjoys a cup of hot water with fresh squeezed lemon juice in it.
She listens to the birds, “I find that the birds are the best twitter handle ever. Go out with a playful spirit. Whatever is on the screen will still be there, but the sound of the birds won’t.”
A “tactile and sensual start to the day sets the emotional temperature,” and allows her to engage in life more fully. As a voiceover professional, her creative mind is attuned to what she observes around her as she inquires, “What would that person sound like if they were a cartoon?”
She is determined to “engage them in conversation in some way, not to network, but just interesting conversation. You never know who you will meet and what you will talk about along the way. It doesn’t have to be long or flirty or productive. Some of the sweetest conversations have happened because I have dared to look up, show up and speak up. Your beshert (Yiddish for ‘meant to be’ or soulmate) may be sitting next to you and you might not know if you are looking down.”
Weisberg encourages, “Before eating, ask if you are grateful for what you want to have. You can only eat one bite at a time.” With her friends, she has a little contest, in which they put their phones on the table, and the first one to pick up the phone before the meal is over, buys everybody dinner.
Weisberg does what she refers to as “bookending my day with gratitude, “as she writes in her journal the things for which she is thankful,” first thing in the morning and before retiring at night. She adds, “I unspool my day mentally. What’s happened that is interesting? Will it go into the gratitude journal or the mental meatloaf pan?
She finds that, “The best part of the device that will give you sound sleep is the power off button. Everyone has one. I suggest you use it. As an added benefit; pushing the power-off button, may also very well lead to firing up and pushing your own playfully powerful pleasure button.”