The digital world is not going away. We know that it has given us a lot of tools making us more efficient, more informed and even more productive. However, we need to become aware of when technology starts to get in the way of human connection The more we connect to this cyber world, the less we connect to our inherent spirit, our partners, families and communities. Think about it, when you are on your phone in the presence of others, does this not tell them that they are not worthy of your attention.
Face to face conversation is where compassion, empathy, and creativity is born. There is eye contact, you can see body language, you can hear tone in the voice, and you can even sense the energy from the person you are engaging with. However, when the conversation occurs over a mobile device, you don’t experience these senses making it hard to connect on an emotional level. Even when a face to face conversation takes place in the presence of a mobile device, the dialogue is often hampered because we engage in conversation that is less meaningful. Because the device is present and can interrupt the conversation, the tendency is to engage in surface level topics. In the end, this decreases a person’s ability to connect emotionally with another individual. It also decreases our ability to build compassion making us less connected in a highly connected world.
Technology leaves us feeling more isolated, even when it brings the world closer together. It’s like users are alone – together.
When we decide to disconnect, we start to exercise the idea of having a single point of awareness. Instead of trying to multitask, which our devices undoubtedly give us the false sense of being able to do, we slow down and focus on the present moment. And when we are with someone else, this allows us the ability to connect with that person on a deeper level. We really see things for what they are instead of through a virtual veil.
Here are a few tips to help you detox from technology:
- Become intentional about when and where you reach for your device. Notice when you are grabbing for your phone out of habit. If it’s because you are in an uncomfortable situation or thought, really reflect on that to understand why. We can often learn more about ourselves if we sit in contemplation. If it’s because you are bored, then try to refrain from grabbing the device. Sit in boredom. This is often where the brain has a moment to relax and recharge. The more often you allow yourself to sit in boredom, you may see that the brain becomes more creative.
- Engage in active listening. This means really listening to the person you are engaging with. Avoid being distracted by other things within your environment, such as your phone or even your own thoughts. Really listen to what the person has to say without making immediate judgements on their words. Take it all in and make sure to pause before offering a response. As humans, we like to be able to offer a solution to people’s problems, but sometimes the answers lie within the silence. So, after the person is done talking, simply pause a few moments before speaking.
- Turn the phone on airplane mode. Unless you are an on-call worker, you should consider putting your phone on airplane mode during certain times of the day – especially at night time. There are truly no beeps, no interruptions, and no lights that will go off when your phone is on airport mode. The only exception is your alarm, which will wake when it’s time to go to work.
- Create space where you can be device free. That might mean no mobile devices allowed in a certain room, or it might mean that they are silenced and tucked away. Try this when you’re having coffee with a friend, eating dinner with your family, spending time on the couch with your spouse, or out in nature with your children.
By Erica Matechuk RYT 200