These days it can feel impossible to get just 5 minutes with no distraction and dare I even say it, quiet. The noise and demands of technology are relentless and seemingly inescapable.
We are living without any distinction between on and off, public and private time, or space. Even at home, the world keeps coming in through our devices and our attention remains on call; we are still on. Consequently, our nervous system is in a state of perpetual fight or flight; we are “twired” all the time, both tired and wired, with the prospect of relief nowhere in sight. Ironically, even computers need to be shut down every once in a while, to reboot, but we humans somehow think we can do without it.
The average person checks their smartphone 190 times per day or every 5 minutes. At this time in history, we are bingeing on technology as if we were at a cruise ship buffet, using it to maintain a constant state of distraction and entertainment, and ultimately, to escape the present moment, and ourselves. We continue using, and even increase our use, despite being aware of the negative consequences that it causes. Our more evolved self wants to cut down but we won’t, can’t, don’t. The only difference between technology addiction and other addictions is that we have all drunk the Kool-Aid; we’re all in on this one. It used to be that an addiction caused us to be excluded from society, but technology addiction makes us an insider, part of the club. In truth, technology is not doing this to us. Rather, it is simply making it easier and more acceptable for us to act out the most primitive aspects of who we already are. Technology is the perfect partner and tool for our reptilian self. (The reptilian self is our inner five-year-old, that part of us that wants what it wants and wants it now, regardless of whether it’s good for us—and yes you have one!)
Thus far we have been building bad habits and allowing ourselves to fall into a kind of entertained sleep, letting technology decide how it will use us rather than the other way around. But the great news is that each of us can start building a healthy relationship with technology right now, by simply making different choices, little ones, like not playing games on our phone when riding the bus, not putting our device on the table when we’re with a friend, not checking our phone when we wake up in the night, not posting every thought that appears in our mind, not taking selfies each time we have the impulse to do so… little things that radically change the way we live, and feel.
Technology is not going to start make mindful choices on our behalf. It is us, the humans using technology, who must make mindful choices for ourselves, take ownership of our behavior, if we want to regain control and bring our lives back into sync with what really matters to us. Change happens one individual, one moment, one choice at a time. Why not start now?
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