No matter how deep our heads are in work and every day life, we cannot deny that we live in a very technology centered world today.
Mostly everyone, down to even children in primary school, has mobile phones. Research from the latest 2018 Yellow Social Media Report states that almost eight out of ten of us have social media accounts, making it 79% of the adult population, which was ten percentage points higher than the previous year. Without forgetting to mention that anyone that works in an office is generally connected all day in some way shape or form to social media channels, you get the picture that ‘connectivity’ is ubiquitous in today’s world.
Get straight to our tips for switching off here or read on to learn how and why we’re hardwired for connection….
But to whom, and to what are we connected?
If you are not connected internally first, it doesn’t matter how much external connection you get, you won’t be feeling in your optimum state.
This is the paradox of our ‘hyper connected’ world – we can often forget that there is one connection – the internal one, which determines the quality of every other connection, via a social ‘platform’ or via the conduit of a real human body in front of you.
Technology and connectivity has brought many benefits to our societies, connecting people in different countries and time zones in a way that is unprecedented in our history. The positive benefits have been great – especially for activist organisations such as Avaaz – which raises awareness of injustices and atrocities worldwide and has been able to build a fund raising platform online to raise money to address these issues and many others.
Social media platforms were very important in distributing the news of uprisings against authoritarian regimes such as during the Arab Spring in Middle East and North Africa between 2010 and 2012.
Without the news posted by individuals on these platforms, the story of many attacks and injustices against peaceful protesters by these countrys’ military and police would have been suppressed.
So there are without a doubt many benefits to our new constantly connected world.
But there are also clear negatives – the extreme ones being social media addiction and internet addiction, where people are not able to control their use of social platforms and their lives become very adversely affected by them. This may not be your case, but probably you could benefit from some ways to limit your use of technology so that you are more in control of your time and your energy, and you are able to fully switch off when necessary.
Research shows also that the availability of easy connectivity means that people are much more likely to have the boundaries between work and leisure time blurred by doing things like checking emails from home or from their mobile phones out of work hours.
In a study of German speaking countries by the University of Zurich in 2017, researchers found that employees who did not maintain clear boundaries between work and free time were less likely to participate in activities that could help them relax. They were therefore more exhausted and experienced a lower sense of balance and well-being in the different key aspects of their lives.
“Employees who integrated work into their non-work life reported being more exhausted because they recovered less,” Wepfer says. “This lack of recovery activities furthermore explains why people who integrate their work into the rest of their lives have a lower sense of well-being.”
The important thing to remember also is that we don’t actually know yet what the affect of this constant connectivity is on our brains / nervous systems / physiology.
There has not yet been enough evidence collecting, or enough time to do really thorough research into this. There is already research available that indicates detrimental affects on our brains from prolonged mobile phone conversations – which in some cases have caused the growth of brain tumours.
According to Rong Wang, Phd, the World Health Organization (WHO) ‘classifies cell phone radiation as a “possible human carcinogen” due to an increased risk of brain cancer from long-term and heavy use of cell phones. Although short-term cell phone exposure has not been shown to cause brain tumors, research is showing that it can change your brain activity in ways we don’t fully understand yet.’
So there is still so much that we don’t actually know about the overall affects on us of constant connectivity.
And that’s also something to take into account – why not err on the side of caution for the sake of our future selves?
How do we maintain good boundaries between our work and personal life? There are actually quite a few tools integrated into the technologies themselves that we can utilize to limit our tech-connected time and take a break.
Here are Some Tips for a Tech Detox
- Why not try disconnecting from all devices for a whole weekend? I know, it sounds extreme doesn’t it, but give it a try and see what happens.
- Instead of texting someone next time you are wanting to connect, give them a call and organise to meet up.
- When you do actually meet up with someone, try switching your phone off and keeping it off the whole time you are together.
- Create sacred space each morning where you meditate, or drink your tea or coffee, or practice yoga before looking at any gadgets or devices.
- Get one of the apps on your phone that tells you how much time each day you spend on social media platforms. And then make sure you check to see how much time it is. Just having this information helps us to become more conscious of unconscious habits.
- Try putting your phone in ‘Do not disturb’ mode from 8pm until 8am to give yourself a full break. On the iphone you can add in an exception so your family or partner can contact you.
- Switch of broadband and wifi routers at night when you are not using them.
Do you have any other ideas? Do you already have a routine and a discipline when it comes to your tech use? Feel free to email us and let us know – we’ll even add to this article!
Michelle is a writer, musician, meditation and yoga teacher based in Melbourne. She teaches mindfulness courses and leads yoga retreats. She runs her own business called Inner Alchemy and is available as a coach and mentor.