I cannot walk a block down the street without almost running into someone who is on the phone, texting, tweeting, Instagram-ing, googling, Facebook-ing and God knows what else.
For the record, I have been one of these people and still am from time to time.
The world has changed dramatically in the past few years: technology has made everyone compulsive about connecting. We compulsively adapt and integrate new technology into our everyday lives, until one day we look up from our phones and realize we are addicted to our technology. Much of this technology created by an app development company, was supposed to connect us and free up our time, but we end up sitting alone, wasting our time talking to a device. We get distracted by our devices and tend to miss the simple pleasures of life, never mind stopping to literally “smell the roses”.
Human beings are a highly adaptive species and technology is always evolving. It’s only when we get a chance to step back and reevaluate our lives that we can truly appreciate how profoundly it has changed the way we interact with others, the environment and ourselves.
First and foremost, technology advances at an exponential rate and we feel obliged to keep up with each innovation. We quickly become dependent on advances that didn’t exist a few years before. These days, we would never think of leaving the house without our smart phones: what if we got lost, don’t respond to a text message right away, or have to stand in line and got bored!?!
Everything has become instantaneous and we are now expected to be available 24 hours a day. Life has become a constant state of emergency. If someone calls, texts or emails, or if news is tweeted or #hashtagged, we must know immediately. We live in a hyper state of FOMO and validate our fears everytime we visit Instagram.
Children grow up on these new devices and know no other world. Even as adults, we can hardly remember a time when we relied on answering machines. A time when we would only respond to people when we got home and had to listen to our messages. People don’t leave messages anymore; they would have to call first, and no self respecting millennial actually makes a phone call with their phone.
We no longer have the patience to wait in line without an app to entertain us. We are an “on-demand” society. If something happens in China, we expect to know about it right away in the U.S. We have become accustomed to living in a world of heightened anxiety, always ready, responding and alert.
Ultimately, either we use technology or technology uses us. In order to use the gifts that technology offers us in positive ways, we must create space from our devices and realize that very few things are so important that we must respond right away. Whether we’re at dinner, a party, walking down the street or even waking up, the constant use of smart phones makes us unconscious consumers, no longer experiencing life in the moment. Before we know it, we are feeling disconnected from ourselves, others and nature. We are depleted and resentful and don’t know why. We keep googling, but we only find information instead of real answers.
How do we reconnect with life before technology and smart phones started running our lives? How do we reconnect with ourselves and our surroundings and begin to use technology a little more intelligently, so we are actually empowered by it?
Here are a three methods for bringing some reality and sanity back into your everyday life:
- Change your phone’s password every few weeks. Make this a ritual and, every time you change it, set an intention to be more present when opening the phone. Set an intention to take a deep breath before you start using it. This will allow for that slight separation from the need to respond right away and allow you to connect to the moment. We need to change the password every so often because, after a while, accessing the phone becomes another unconscious habit.
- Set your phone to “airplane mode” before you go to bed and leave it in a different room. You might need to buy an actual alarm clock to do this, but this way you’ll be able to go to bed and wake up without the distraction of technology. You will find yourself sleeping better, as your circadian rhythm gets more in tune with nature. Notice how you become more aware of the present with your evening and morning routines.
- Don’t walk and text (email, google, whatever). If you absolutely need to get on your phone while walking from one place to another, then stop and take care of what you need to do. Once you’re done, put the phone away and enjoy the process of walking with awareness. If you see some roses, go ahead and smell them!