Don’t we live in a wonderful world where we have access to knowledge and information within seconds (at least most of the time!) Technology has provided us this incredible opportunity to reconnect with long ago friends and to stay in touch with those we love from almost anywhere in the world. This is pretty cool.
However, I know I’m not alone by any stretch when I share that technology has also created a whole new set of challenges in time management. How many of us walk into our homes daily and head straight to the computer to check email and social media, sometimes only five minutes after looking at our smartphones, and checking for text messages? Aren’t we all so important these days! Do we really need to be contacted or contact others during almost every waking hour? What’s happened to people and civility when they are texting or chatting in public bathroom stalls? Please! Especially given the limited number of stalls in most women’s restrooms, I personally don’t want to have to wait while someone is having a conversation or texting with a friend. Why not make the restroom a NO CONTACT ZONE.
How DO we stay connected without becoming obsessed or addicted and still live a healthy life that is full of social, creative, personal and professional experiences. Being mindful takes effort every single day and while many of us are aware of this, it’s so easy to fall into bad habits. How can sitting “hunched” over a computer for endless hours be healthy?
True, many of us need computers for business reasons, myself included. Funny, don’t we get the itchy fingers to do a “quick” jump to social media pages along with other favorite websites? “Quick” can turn into an hour or more if we aren’t careful. In addition, I know that while I’m “surfing” or emailing or texting, I am not “present” with anyone I happen to be with. (I can’t blame my husband’s disgruntled look when he needs to repeat something 3 times.)
And how annoying is it to have a friend pick up a call when you’re in the middle of a conversation. We’ve all heard “I have to take this.” How did we survive all of life’s emergencies before the invention of our smartphones? Isn’t it sad to drive by bus stops or pass through malls where people sitting used to talk with one another? Now everyone is “connected” to something other than a real person. It’s been said that we’ll know in 20 years if the “anti-social-ness” of being on the “grid” will affect our culture. I think it already has.
Certain studies have noted that people are actually depressed after visiting Facebook. How many posts do we need to see of others “living the dream” when many viewers’ own lives are tedious and hard — raising families, unable to find work or working jobs they don’t love, tending to illness and loss. Technology can actually leave us feeling lonely and jealous.
I’m tired after spending more than an hour on the “grid.” I’m also bored and get resentful at the time wasted in which I could have been doing something healthy for myself, or taking a much needed break.
For those working, there also seems to be the need to set boundaries between work hours and our hours at home. Everyone worries about job security and there’s sometimes great pressure to stay connected even during our time at home. Sometimes business emails come in at home that aren’t so pleasant to receive. Think of the added stress we have with our loved ones in the evening with something like that hanging over our heads until the next morning or after the weekend.
It’s been noted that the light given off by our televisions, tablets, computers and smartphones after two hours of use, can affect our serotonin levels (our sleep hormones) making it more difficult to sleep. I’ve personally noticed that when I read my tablet in bed, vs. a book, that I do tend to have more trouble falling asleep. By the same token, if I’ve been watching a disturbing television program or the grim world news downstairs prior to going to bed, I have trouble sleeping. TV programs and computer browsing can all set us up for a miserable night’s sleep, not only because of the light they emit but also due to content. Who needs that before dropping off to sleep? In our busy lives, we all need our seven to eight hours of pleasant, solid sleep.
A recent survey tells us that most Americans, adults and children, spend approximately nine hours per day watching TV, talking on their cells phones, or on their computers. One third of that time is spent using two or more of those media at once. How do we stay focused? I know that I can’t multitask with technology; my brain starts frying. I can’t think and I get grumpy. What messages are we sending to our children and the people we love and live with if as adults we can’t set healthy technology boundaries for them and ourselves?
For me, these lifestyle areas have become critical to my mental, physical and emotional well being: Music, reading, having and nurturing healthy, strong social relationships AND getting outdoors. I’ve realized that it’s important for EVERY age group. As I see it, it requires a lot of concerted effort in “grid management.” It takes awareness and dedication to navigate these waters. It’s like food, exercise, stress, family, and work — too much or too little isn’t healthy.
My personal goals for the coming weeks in “Managing Life in a Connected World” include:
- Checking in at my computer only 3 times per day, not spending more than 30 minutes at one time
- Calling at least one friend or family member in person every other day, even for a 15 minute chat
- Leaving my phone off during all meals out with family or friends
- Not responding to every call or text that comes in on my phone each day
- Reading a real book instead of my tablet while in bed
- Having a face-to-face conversation with at least one person each day in a technology-free environment.