I want to learn all I can, live as wisely as I can, and savor every moment on the journey.
It seems to me that technology is like a creeping vine—rather like the strangling “Devil’s Snare” plant of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The lure of latest technology and convenience is so compelling and ubiquitous that we tend to not think twice about whether we really want a particular gadget, app, social media platform, etc. in our lives. The only question we ask is whether we can get it and when.
It’s not until we find ourselves stressed out and bleary-eyed from staring at our gadget screens all day, ever-connected to our social circles and the larger culture through the internet, or until we find ourselves suddenly surrounded by nature and quiet, that we realize how our lives have been taken over.
I’ve seen a lot of conversation in the media and blogosphere about “unplugging”—putting down our smart phones, tablets, and other gadgets to focus on the physical present moments in our lives. I’ve read a few great articles about smart ways to set limits for our gadget use (“Step Away from the Phone!”) and about how more people are realizing that unchecked tech-gadget use can drain our energy and peace of mind.
Also, I wrote a little article about this that was published in my local newspaper’s op-ed section; you can read it online here.
I am shifting to a more analog lifestyle in several ways. I am very prone to stress, headaches, and overwhelm, and the computer technology all around me was making it worse. (Am I really the only person who gets headaches from looking at screens too long?) My efforts to “unplug” my life are helping me feel so much better.
1. I deleted my email and social media accounts from my smart phone; I now only check them on my computer at home. I’m considering downgrading from a smart phone to a landline and a cheap cell phone for emergencies.
2. I do most of my writing by hand now. That has the added benefit of forcing my thoughts to slow down and choose my words more carefully.
3. I’m bringing letter writing back into my life.
4. I turn my phone off at night now. Being inaccessible sometimes is important to my peace of mind.
5. I’m making a conscious effort to have more screen-free time, whether I’m knitting, reading, writing, cooking, going outside, or just relaxing with my cats and husband. This helps me keep a firm grasp on my boundary between private and publically shared thoughts. And when I am on the computer or watching TV, I try (though not always successfully) to limit that time before I get a bad headache from the screen.
This is all about peace of mind. I might be unusual in my low tolerance for stress and screens. Most people seem to be fine with, and even thrive on, staying constantly connected to their social world through their smart phones and other gadgets. I’m not saying they are wrong, not at all. I’m just finding out that that lifestyle doesn’t work for me. Smart, popular technology takes a conscious effort to break away from. For me, the benefits are worth the effort.