How to Disconnect in a Hyper-Connected World
Connected technology has the power to make life significantly better in a number of ways. It can help us explore the world, monitor our health and stay in closer contact with family and friends around the world. But as much as connected tech can be helpful and useful, it can also become a crutch or even an addiction. Taking time to disconnect is important because just like our tech, humans also have a need to recharge their batteries. Connected tech can sometimes make it harder to do this rather than easier. Here are 3 ways to disconnect in a hyper-connected world.
1. Turn your phone off in the evening
Yes, you can simply turn your phone on silent or "do not disturb," but that doesn't stop you from habitually checking it every 6 seconds. In 2013, data collected from a screen lock app showed that on average, users checked their phone around 110 times per day, with some users checking it upwards of 900 times a day. That averages to be around once every 6 seconds, and that was in 2013.
The idea that you can actually multi-task has been thoroughly debunked. Instead, what is happening is you are completely switching your attention from one thing to another, even if just for a few seconds. This means that every time you check your phone, you are actually switching your attention or switching your focus away from family, friends, loved ones or even just your own evening activities. By turning your phone off entirely, you remove the temptation to keep checking it and if you do check it out of habit, all you will be greeted with is a blank screen. There are many benefits to disconnecting from digital devices for a few hours, but some of the scientifically proven ones are:
Greater ability to focus
Deeper, healthier and more intimate relationships
2. Take a digital detox
Sometimes, we can get so attached to technology that we literally can't remember what it was like without it. In many cases, our attachment is driven by fear - either the fear of being unavailable in an emergency or even just the fear of missing out on something. In fact, the fear of missing something is so prevalent that it even has its own acronym. A detox is the process by which we remove certain elements that are overtaxing us so that we can maintain a more healthy balance.
When people think of detox, they often think first of alcoholics or drug addicts. When an alcoholic or drug addict wants to quit drinking or get clean, they generally need to go through detox to cleanse the alcohol or drugs from their system so they can get treatment. People who develop a food allergy may not know what it is exactly they are allergic to. They may need to do a detox first of all potential offenders so they can start with a clean slate. They slowly start introducing foods back into their diet until they figure out what they are allergic to. A digital detox works much the same way. Sometimes, you need to unplug entirely for a bit and then slowly start introducing electronics back into your life so you know what you can actually live without.
3. Get back to nature
One of the biggest problems with connected tech is what it disconnects us from. Taking a digital detox for the sake of taking one is good, but it can also be difficult. Perhaps one of the best ways to start is to get away from cell service and outlets in the first place. Ditch your digital devices and get somewhere far away from all the electronic noise. Getting away from electronics doesn't necessarily have to mean roughing it in a rugged environment, but it can.
There are a number of different travel and vacation options to help you unplug. You can go the old-fashioned route by hiking, fishing, hunting or camping, or you can go as luxe as you want. For those that want to truly travel back in time before even electricity, you might consider "Robinson Crusoe tourism." Croatia in particular has made a cottage industry of offering accommodations in secluded locations, often with no running water or electricity. This doesn't mean they don't offer showers and other amenities, simply that they are offered in the most old-fashioned way possible.
Whether you just unplug for several hours every evening or for several weeks at a time, there is no right or wrong way to limit technology in your life. What is important, however, is finding the balance between allowing technology to help you live a more full life and having technology take over your life entirely.
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