Freedom in the Face of Technology
In today’s wireless world, it can feel impossible to get just five minutes without distraction and quiet. The noise and demands of technology are relentless and seemingly inescapable.
We now live without distinction between on and off, public and private time, or space. Even at home, the world keeps coming in through our devices and our attention remains on call; we are always on.
Consequently, we are both tired and wired all the time, with the prospect of relief nowhere in sight. Ironically, even computers need to be shut down every once in a while to reboot, but we humans somehow think we can do without it.
The average person checks their smartphone 190 times per day or every 5 minutes. At this time in history, we are bingeing on technology as if we were at a cruise ship buffet, using it to maintain a constant state of distraction. We use it for entertainment and escape, but lose the present moment and ourselves.
We continue to increase our use, despite being aware of the negative consequences that it causes. Our more evolved self wants to cut down but we won’t, can’t, and don’t.
The only difference between technology addiction and other addictions is that we have all drunk the Kool-Aid; we’re all in on this one.
It used to be that an addiction caused us to be excluded from society, but technology addiction is almost a requirement for inclusion.
But this ever-present digital connection is changing us. It is making it easier and more acceptable for us to act out our most primitive qualities. Technology is the perfect tool for our inner 5-year-old that wants what it wants and wants it now—regardless of whether it’s good for us.
Thus far we have been building bad habits and allowing ourselves to fall into a kind of entertained sleep, letting technology decide how it will use us rather than the other way around.
But the great news is that each of us can start building a healthy relationship with technology right now, by simply making different choices.
Many of those choices are quite small, like not playing games on our phone when riding the bus, or not putting our device on the table when we’re with a friend, or not checking our phone when we wake up in the night. These little things can radically change the way we live, and feel.
Technology is not going to make mindful choices on our behalf. It is us, the humans using technology, who must make mindful choices for ourselves and take ownership of our behavior if we want to regain control.
Doing so will help bring our lives back into sync with what really matters to us.
In our final moments, we’ll never wish we spent more time watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook. The opposite is more likely to be true.
Change happens one individual, one moment, one choice at a time. Why not start now?
Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, author, public speaker, and workshop leader. A regular blogger for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post, she has also authored several books on mindfulness and personal growth. Colier is available for individual psychotherapy, mindfulness training, spiritual counseling, public speaking, and workshops, and also works with clients via Skype around the world. For more information, visit NancyColier.com