The Crack At The Fault Line Is Widening:
Ever since the smart phone revolution, we’re increasing living both online and offline and have been trying to navigate the fault line between the two worlds. But, our brains are not wired for consuming vast amounts of data at a rapid pace online and switch off to participate in the monotonous and boring moments of real life.
Digital fatigue, dopamine addiction and down regulation, these are just few of the many issues that are compromising our brains’ wellbeing. If there’s no mental health revolution now, then we will continue to live our lives at the mercy of Big Tech’s FAANGs.(Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google)
So, isn’t the solution just staying away from our devices and having the self control to choose when and how long we keep scrolling? Wish the answer was that simple, because our lack of self discipline is only part of the problem. These devices are engineered to keep us hooked. Let’s see how.
Us Against Tech:
The Real World:
Let’s look at how our daily lives are in the real world.
- Real life is boring, monotonous and tiresome.
- It is lonely, unpredictable and chaotic.
- It has become hard to create our own stimulation.
The Online World:
On the other hand, our life online is one that’s filled with limitless possibilities.
We see ourselves as intellectual hoarders: Curating our emails, podcasts, Instagram posts, sharing our favorite dances from Tiktok, hiding our friends’ updates on Facebook, updating our “watch later” on YouTube, perusing our “recommendations” on Netflix – perfecting our online presence all the time.
Social media promises to spread our message far and wide.
Downside Of 24/7 Connectivity:
The Online World:
Because of the lure of the internet, we constantly feel the need to:
- Be on social media if we were to be relevant.
- Keep up with the unimaginable and exponential pace of changing tech.
- Face the competition to matter.
- Prove to be making a difference publicly.
As a result of its ubiquity of the internet, we are expected to be:
- Always available.
- Up to date.
The Real World:
Addiction disorders like eating, shopping and gambling are well known, but internet addiction that’s leading to a mass phenomenon of foggy hysteria is not being adapted as a real addiction. Along with a long list of ailments like headaches, dry and red eyes, vision loss, weight gain there are other physical manifestations of stressors of our modern technology driven lives.
Text Neck: Wiki: Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently.
Phantom Vibration: Wiki: Phantom vibration syndrome or phantom ringing is the perception that one’s mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not ringing.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is the inflammation of the median nerve in the wrists. Not using ergonomic equipment can exacerbate pain and numbness in the area.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Its important to remember that the gut is the second brain. And anxiety, FOMO, depression and the inability to focus can lead to long term digestive disorders.
The Internet Compounds Our Covid Worries:
The point is not about being anti-technology, but to use it to our advantage for productivity and efficiency. Covid has removed that key aspect of touch, and connection with our fellow humans. And our brains that have evolved over thousands of years are not just programmed to stay and interact on long video chats on Zoom and Facetime.
We’re seeing our children raising themselves. And we’re seeing them educate themselves on one tab, and switch over to entertaining themselves on the next. Devices be damned, we can’t even fight anything anymore, thanks to our distractions and exhaustions.
On top of that, we’re seeing posts from friends and family and wondering to ourselves, are we being outraged enough at what’s happening to our world??! We already have so much work piling up, yet we worry if we’re fulfilling our civic duties of contributing to activism and change.
So how should one live when every moment seems to be bringing in new problems and uncertainties?
Take Your Charge Back:
The point is to not get you angry and riled up about anything. Is it really us vs. technology?
Technology is here to stay, we need to become aware of how not to make ourselves and our children its collateral. If we don’t learn and go with the flow, we will be left behind. Like it or not, it is our kids world – The tech world, more so when we’re in raging pandemic outdoors and there’s not a whole lot to do in life. But, they being the masters of creativity and adaptability will continue to learn, understand and experience the world around them. They will use it as tools for productivity and connectivity, only if, we as adults help them understand that they are here for us and not the other way around.
- Moderation and Parental Guidance is Key.
- Social media is not for children under 14.
- Parental discretion is important.
And most importantly, kids don’t have the discerning power and the ability to self regulate. Read more on how to set boundaries and expectations on their internet and social media use.
No Better Time To Cut The Cord:
As far as, we adults are concerned, Covid is really testing the limits of our endurance with our tech-time both for work and personal use. But, the balancing act doesn’t have to come at a cost if we understand the advantages of taking downtime seriously.
Most of our work, education and our connection is happening online. So, its upto us to make our physical world habitable and exciting, so we can plan for rest and restoration offline.
Secondly, if a product is “free”, it simply means, we’re the product. Our attention and our eyeballs are the product for Tech companies who, inspite of repeated appearances in front of Congress on the topic of regulations on Big Tech, have managed to do very little for our mental health. In such a scenario, its upon us to schedule our own pockets of silence at the pace of Mother Nature. Nope, you don’t need that app for meditation, just take a walk and the birds will sing for you.
And how can we take back control? We can begin by asking ourselves, “While I’m being present 24/7 for my technology and my work, who else in my life is missing my presence and my undivided attention? How much will I pay for this moment to come back in 20 years? Who needs me the most?”