Technology is a great tool, right?
Yes, correct. We’ve covered that. There are limitless amounts of information and activities which can be done with it. You can be almost instantly connected to people around the world. It’s great!
However, this week I have spent some time reflecting on the balance of technology use.
The term to cover this balance and reflection would be mindfulness.
Am I being mindful of my use and time spent online? Am I digitally mindful?
I think in our world of ever-increasing dependence on technology, we need to consistently be asking ourselves this question. So, what does this look like?
Being digitally mindful is essentially being aware and conscious of your time. It is taking into consideration your actions and feelings. It is then taking that reflection and evaluating the influence and impact of it on your face-to-face life.
When I really reflect and think about it, I am not always digitally mindful. I would like to think that I am but I don’t think anyone is, all the time. And the truth is, its hard. I mean, our lives are almost totally consumed with technology. From email, to social media, to games, to online reading, to online banking, our lives revolve around our devices.
So, in order to be more digitally mindful we should just disconnect, right?
Well, maybe not. In a TedTalk called A Year Offline, What I Have Learned, Paul Miller describes his experience of going totally “off-grid.” I encourage you to watch this video, it is quite interesting. Miller discusses first his dependence on technology, then his total disconnect,and finally his entrance back into technology.
The interesting aspect of his talk and experience is the lapse and exit from his social circle while being disconnected. While watching, I thought about this. If we are so dependent on technology to stay in touch with our family and friends, I think something is a bit off. Yes, I understand when you don’t live in the same area, technology such as texting and face-timing are such a blessing. However, I worry we are forgetting the meaning, importance, and impact of a coffee date with a good friend or an unexpected surprise visit or even phone call from a special friend or family member.
Perhaps, totally disconnecting is not the best option to be digitally mindful. The good news is, there is another option – limit and simplify. Leo Babauta wrote a great article about just that. You can find the article here.
Babauta lists tips by category of online tools and technologies. Some of those categories are social, email and work, and reading accounts. Some of the tips include limiting time, limiting number of accounts, limiting notifications and letting go. As I read this article, I found myself reflecting upon my own device and technology use.
According to the list, I would say that I am not doing a horrible job at being digitally mindful. I only have a few social media accounts that I check regularly, same with my readings such as blogs, and my email is not all that complicated.
I tend to give extra effort to be mindful when I am spending time with friends and family. Paul Miller talks about the intensity of his conversations when he was offline and I like the idea of creating potential for the same in my life. I know that this is a well-talked about topic but I really think we should at least attempt to disconnect when we are face-to-face with real people. When people are in front of us, we need to be in front of them. I think part of it comes down to common courtesy.
Katrina Schwartz wrote an article that described what happened when teens were asked to give up their phones for three days. (You can read that article here.) One of the quotes that really stuck with me was one of the teens said it was ironic that the older generations who had previously been criticizing them for device use were then the ones who were on their phones while the teen was not. This reminded me of the saying, “Practice what you preach.”
This week of reflecting has reminded me, once again, of the impact technology has on our lives and society. When we give more attention to the device in our hand rather than the people in front of us, we miss out. We miss out on deep conversations, funny picture opportunities, and even some memories.
So, if there’s one thing you remember from this post, let it be this: Be present. Don’t let the power of technology overtake the opportunity to appreciate life’s adventures.
A Girl Being Mindfully Present