When I started working on this blog post, I thought I had come up with a simple topic – unplugging. I thought I would share some reasons why our lives would all be better if we ditched our smartphones every once in a while. Simple, right?
Wrong. Instead, I began reading about the psychology and science of technology, which is extremely complex. The more I read, the more my focus transformed from the notion of abandoning our devices to becoming aware of the relationship we have with technology.
The smartphone is an amazing piece of technology. It allows us to have a computer, a library and a movie theater in our pockets. Our smartphones provide us access to every song we could ever want to hear, every photo we’ve ever taken and every individual we have met, whether in person or digitally. The amount of information available to us is incredible and vast, which is why a simple search easily turns into a rabbit hole of information. In some cases, the information we obtain from technology can also be overwhelming, biased and hurtful. In spite of that, most of us find ourselves “obsessed” or “addicted” to our technology. Both of those terms would be seen as major red flags if anyone used them in reference to a human relationship. However, we downplay those feelings when it comes to our devices. So how do we cure ourselves of these obsessions or addictions?
How about unplugging? Unplugging is just that – shutting off (or putting away) the technology for a period of time (a few minutes, an hour etc.) There are lots of benefits to unplugging from technology every once in a while. Some of them include, increased awareness of your surroundings, reduced back and neck pain, better quality of sleep, enhanced productivity and appreciation for the present. Many of us are aware of the benefits, myself included, and still struggle with separation from our devices.
A few weeks ago was the 5th annual National Day of Unplugging. According to their website, the purpose of unplugging is to “disconnect from digital devices to connect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities in real time.” I felt slightly disappointed that I missed this opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to better connect with themselves, their loved ones, and their community? But then I realized that I have a pretty decent relationship with myself, my loved ones and my community. The unhealthiest relationship I am in, is with my digital devices, and the reason I struggle to unplug is because I am wrapped up in a complex push and pull relationship with technology.
I would not describe myself as obsessed or addicted, but I feel confused most of the time. I am hypersensitive to the moments when I neglect a personal encounter by checking my phone. However, I love being able to communicate with people far and wide. I think that commonly used Facebook status says it best. “It’s complicated.” So how do we navigate these complicated relationships? I will explore that in my next post! Stay tuned…