‘I wish you happiness but cannot make your choices for you.’
In an age of 24/7 connectivity, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, the nervous system frazzled, sleep disturbed. Good reason then to give some attention to what technology is doing for us, and to us. Mindfulness is a great support with this.
It is undeniable that technological innovation has made life easier in many ways. However, it has also added to the sense of speed, complexity, stress and overwhelm that are a feature of modern western life. Everything has speeded up. Rather than the much promised increase in leisure time, many of us find ourselves running on a technological treadmill that shows no signs of slowing down. The technology that promised us increased efficiency and leisure time, threatens to rob us of both, if we don’t pay attention. Who do you know who has time on their hands?
Every day my inbox fills with emails, many of them requiring attention, while others, unwelcome and aggressive, try to sell me something. Add this to the fact that I have a computer, an iPad and an iphone, and the inbox goes almost everywhere I go, if I choose it.
This is the point, if I choose it. As I become more and more inundated with demands for my attention. What will I choose to give my attention too? I am sure that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have their benefits, but do I have the time? I love to read, draw, cook, walk, relate to ‘live’ human beings, to be connected to the world around me, and, dare I say it, to spend time with myself. In the midst of a working life it is difficult enough to make time for these activities, without the added distraction of social media. Time spent checking Facebook, is time that I could be doing other things, that I value more. People advise me, ‘If you want your business to succeed, you need to use social media’, and maybe they are right, but you know what, some things just can’t be bought, and time and space for me to ‘just be’, is one of them. Time for what Mary Oliver calls, ‘being idle and blessed.’
For me it’s the email. It’s so addictive! I know it well, the urge to pick up my mobile phone and check my text and email. I could take this personally, ‘What’s wrong with me, why can’t I leave my phone alone?’ It helps to know that scientific research finds that this isn’t personal at all, it’s biological. Internet and social media stimulate the same opiates and dopamine in the brain, that are stimulated when we drink alchohol, smoke cigarettes or take crack cocaine. Read more here. It is addictive. Just as I choose to stay away from too much alcohol, not to smoke… and surprise, surprise not to take crack cocaine, I choose not to use social media. Read this article to find out more.
So it’s become a practice, I choose to leave the house without my phone, to switch it off, to have to have phone free days, to not answer calls on public transport. I respect other peoples right to silent space, as much as I respect my own, and…t’s such a relief for my nervous system. The restlessness eases, and I enter the immediacy of my day more fully. I notice more, feel more alive, all of my senses are available, I am in touch with myself, my relationships, and the world.
Check out these sobering portraits by Eric Pickersgill, that capture the disconnection of 24/7 connectivity. He photographed portraits of people in everyday situations and then digitally removed their phones and tablets.
Lets choose the life we want to live… to be less driven.