It’s been a few months since I fell down the rabbit hole of information surrounding our complex relationships with technology. I have since found my way out of that hole, and have attempted to alter my own relationship with technology in an effort to provide ideas and solutions to those who are interested.
Slow It Down
I read a great NY Times article (which can be found under the resources) by Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life. She compares our relationship with technology with that of a couple, and provides many suggestions on how to reevaluate these relationships. One of her suggestions is to “create speed bumps.” Speed bumps are defined as, “small obstacles that force you to slow down and make sure that when you do check your phone, it’s the result of a conscious choice.” Here are some of the “speed bumps” that I have found helpful.
Utilize the Do not disturb features to create hours in which you will not receive notifications or phone calls. It doesn’t just have to be at night! This can be helpful for working parents who want to stay present for the hour or two they have with their kids before bed.
Enable the Do not disturb feature while driving – most iPhones are now equipped to automatically turn this on and off based on locations
Charge/stash portable devices away from your common living space during times of the day/night when you’d like to be present and focused
Out of Office messages
Evaluate Social Media
Ask yourself a couple of questions:
What purpose does (insert social media type here) serve to you?
How is it contributing to or taking away from your wellbeing?
I’ll use Facebook as an example in my own life. About 6 months ago, I removed the Facebook App from my phone (initially because I’m in a constant battle for storage with my iPhone…) Doing so, helped me evaluate the purpose that Facebook serves to me. It is particularly helpful when I am reconnecting with friends and family that I haven’t been in touch with for a while. It has contributed to my wellbeing by allowing me to reconnect with old friends who are starting to move back to the area where I grew up and now live. However, when I allow myself to be sucked into the neverending newsfeed, I am mostly left with feelings of guilt, self-doubt and occasionally regret. This left me with the conclusion that Facebook takes more away than it gives to my overall wellbeing. So, I only allow myself to go on when I have a specific purpose, even if the purpose is updating a profile picture, because it’s been a while!
Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days, but I am not going to downplay how important it is for us to pay more attention to everything around us. In order to better understand our relationship with technology, we have to start noticing. Pay more attention to how you feel physically and emotionally while you are on your phone. Be on the lookout for important things that you may be neglecting as a result of overuse of technology. Think to yourself, What purpose is technology serving at this moment? Entertaining me? Helping me avoid an awkward situation? Protecting me from small talk? There are no wrong answers! It is not about getting upset with yourself, but making yourself aware. When you increase the distance between yourself and your phone, you will more than likely notice the usage of others. Hopefully you will also feel empowered by the ability to choose when and where to engage in technology. If you are curious to learn more, visit Catherine Price’s website, https://phonebreakup.com/ to find additional resources or more information on her book.