Paulo Cohelo said “To change the world we need to combine ancient wisdom with new technologies.” We need to be very mindful of how we achieve that, keeping in mind a certain balance between the two, not allowing technology to annihilate any of the much needed awareness people should have for ancient wisdom.
At the present time, technology allows us to process information in rapid succession without much consideration, which has resulted in the overestimation of our own real-time processing abilities and our lack of ability to direct our focus fully to anything and everything. With Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram only to name a few, how do we know when it’s just too much?
How many times have you checked your emails today, or sent a snap, or posted a photo while you were involved in doing something else. Think of the last conversation you had-Were you really focusing, or was your attention on so many other things that you can barely remember what it was about? When you went out with a friend last, did you actually spend time with them, did you have real a conversation where you both accorded each other your undivided attention, or did you find yourself constantly interrupted by incoming notifications and found yourself so caught up in the online that the real was set aside?
Nowadays, our online activity is the biggest contributor and driving force to our daily lives, which makes the aforementioned pretty much indispensable. We need technology to communicate, we need it to organise events, to get a job, to do pretty much anything these days. However, when I go out and see people in groups, with real, tangible people right in front of them, in complete silence with their noses buried deep in the screens of their phones, I cannot help but think, is this a healthy way to live. Technology should be used to aid our tangible life, not get in the way of our ability to fulfil our most basic basic need, human connection and interaction. Failing to establish and maintain lasting, quality relationships can be damaging to our physical and mental health and can lead to depression.
I have found that the best way to find the perfect balance in technology usage is having a detox. After distancing yourself from the virtual, you will find a reconnection to the real. A lot of the dissatisfaction in life is cause by comparisons and these are innate to social media. Such comparisons will always make you feel like no achievement is ever good enough. The nature of our global connection is not natural to us as humans, making it difficult to feel any sense of personal achievement without dissatisfaction. We are wired to live in tribes. Dunbar’s number suggest that the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships relative to one another is 150. Social media and the interlinking of our global society is a challenge to our biological capacity.
I find the constant buzz of information and expectation quite overwhelming at times, so here are two challenges I have decided to undertake on an ongoing basis in order to reconnect and find my balance.
1. For 30 minutes, two times a day, I am going to relinquish all technology and focus on lowering my stress levels and getting back in touch with my own thoughts and feelings. I am hoping to achieve this through meditation.
2. I’m going to attempt to engage in a shared activity daily, avoiding any technology for the time period. If I am having a meal, or making a puzzle, or playing a boardgame with my partner, we will not allow distractions, but offer each other our full undivided attention, enriching our connection.
While this will likely be quite difficult to achieve and maintain for the first little while, I am hoping that with practice, it will become a habit and a source of calm and improvement in the quality of the relationships in my life. If you decide to also take on a challenge to regain your balance, let me know how you’re going!