By now, we’re used to the seeing the techno-geek slumber party that breaks out on city streets whenever a company like Apple releases a new device. It’s attended by people who, evidently, would perish if they weren’t among the first to experience the newest bells and whistles. If that behavior typifies the only most fanatical technology addicts in our midst, then let’s instead consider the average person, because I suspect we’ll find characteristics that trigger a few dings on the tech addict-o-meter.
Exhibits A, B, C, D, E and F: our phones are usually not more than an arm’s length away; many of us will stop mid-sentence to at least glance at an incoming text; generally speaking, we are obsessed with taking selfies (that’s a whole other blog); given a moment with nothing to do, we’ll fix our eyes on a device’s screen instead of another human being; two-year-olds can manipulate an iPad (they even know how to skip ads while watching YouTube videos). The inescapable internet is now connected to our smart televisions, our watches, our Google eyeglasses. What, oh what, is next?
I’d be among the last to say that technology is bad. It’s not. I’m only saying there must be some balance when it comes to our connection to the internet. Some moderation. Perhaps a set time each day when we intentionally disconnect from technology. It’s good for our strained eyes, our overloaded minds, and, mostly, our often neglected relationships. So, when, then might be the best time to press the off button? Maybe we could take a cue from a restaurateur named Jawdat Ibrahim, who operates a well-known restaurant called Abu Ghost, just outside of Jerusalem. He offers a 50% discount if customers turn off their cell phones while dining there.
“Technology is very good,” Ibrahim told the Huffington Post “But just when you eat, just especially when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company. A lot of people, they sit down and they don’t enjoy their food, their company.”
He makes a solid point. So, why not take a break from the cyber-world and enjoy the world-world!?! Put your phone away for a while when you’re out with friends, on a date, having dinner with your family, even in a business meeting. Join an intramural sports team or take an exercise class; both force you to go tech-free for a couple of hours. During work days, plan a 15-minute break to walk outside, without your phone, and get in touch with all of your senses. Find a bench or a rock, close your eyes, and listen to the birds or even the sound of traffic and chatter. Breathe deeply and smell the fresh air, or whatever is around you. Pick a flower and feel its delicate petals. Do this for an hour on your days off.
Not drastic enough for you? Consider going on a digital detox at one of the adult summer camps Camp Grounded info that are springing up across the nation to specifically help grown-ups get in touch with their inner child – to be free, to get grounded, to laugh, cry, dance, sing, and play like kids. The goal is to be present with other people, to express who they are, and do it while being off the grid, for all the right reasons.
Technology is good. It’s helpful. In today’s world, you can even say it’s vital. There’s nothing wrong with using it. But, it’s always going to be there at your fingertips, so there’s plenty of time – and plenty of reasons – to disconnect once in a while.