I was able to successfully unplug from all technology for half of a day during Thanksgiving break. I would have lasted even longer had my friend not been going through some troubling times, I had to connect with her and that interrupted my technology fast.
I found that being removed from the constant text messages, GroupMe notifications, Facebook alerts, Instagram alerts etc. was very good for my mental health. I never realized how crazy it makes my brain to constantly have to not only look at my phone but respond to about ten different things in less than twenty seconds. Being able to slow down and take some time off with my family was a pleasant change. I noticed that my attention span is shorter than I remember it being before I got my iPhone, I found it hard to concentrate on things for large periods of time. At the dinner table I would zone out of the conversation and my mind would go to school and work and social media until someone at the table would address me directly and I’d have to try to catch the topic of discussion.
This is not good.
I always knew that the dependence we have on technology today is affecting our ability to develop interpersonal relationships and to communicate effectively face to face, but I never thought that this trend was rubbing off on me. From now on I’m determined to spend long periods of the day away from my iPhone and other technology. In the article “Turn off the Phone (and the Tension)” it mentions putting yourself on a “technology diet”, I think I’m going to have to adopt this strategy.
In this class I learned about Displacement Theory. It’s the theory that we only have so much time to give to so many things in our lives. When something comes along (like a new piece of technology) that we start devoting our time to, we have to take it away from something else in our lives. I liked learning about it because while it’s a “common sense” theory, I’d never looked at my life as a division of time. This single theory is most of the explanation for why technology becomes obsolete and the downfall of business. Kodak went out of business because people started spending their time on digital cameras and smartphones. VHS tapes became obsolete because people started spending their time watching DVD’s and (later) Netflix.
Technology has had a very positive impact on my life and I’m very thankful to be blessed enough to be able to afford my smartphone and my tablet and all my other technologies. They make my life considerably easier and more convenient. However, I don’t want the true meaning of communication to get lost in status updates and blog entries. I was appalled at how quickly my brain short circuited at the dinner table this Thanksgiving and I’m determined that by next Thanksgiving I’ll be better at spending time away from technology.