I may be able to credit my love/hate relationship with this technological world to my age. Born at the tail end of Generation X and the cusp of the Millennials, I'm somewhere in between. As this article states, those of us lucky enough to be born in this gap find ourselves with a "unique perspective that's half analog old school and half digital new school". We've evolved with this technology and thus know how to navigates the ins and outs of it with ease, but we can also recall a time before it all and sometimes, are still able to unplug.
It'd be near impossible for me to leave my apartment and within the first five minutes not spot someone using their smartphone. Whether it's listening to music, checking the weather, sports or news, chatting with friends, or snapping selfies to post on Instagram or Snapchat, we're always plugged in, but why? Why do we all have this constant need to be connected to each other? I've asked myself this on multiple occasions, and despite not being able to come up with a valid response, continue to connect.
Last year, while volunteering in Cambodia, my smart phone was stolen. Once I got past the feeling of being invaded, the monetary loss and legal matters I realized I was disconnected. Losing my phone left me to rely on the one office computer as my only means of 'connecting' with the outside world. The first week was tricky, wanting to text my friends, snap photos check in to what others were doing, but after a few weeks I'd never felt more free in my life. Not being able to check in to my virtual world allowed me to be that much more present in the current world I was living. I began connecting on a deeper level with my students, really listening to stories told, and not caring what was happening in the 10,000 other corners of the world.
My first month back teaching in Korea I patiently waited for my ARC (Alien Residency Card) so I could finally open a bank account and activate a local phone number. Finally that day came, and with some persuasion fro my boss I became the owner of the new Galaxy Note 5, this I would soon realize, was a blessing and a curse. This stupid new phone could do everything, I immediately went home and started downloading apps and updating accounts, there were so many things to see, do, explore and play with - photo editors, entertainment apps, shopping, weather, music, games, news and education! Despite my initial excitement I soon realize what a curse this stupid phone would be, always readily available at the palm of my hand, connecting me with friends, filling the quite moments on buses, entertaining me while waiting in line, or worst of all fueling my procrastination.
If you want to have more creative flow in your life, stop checking your social media and email so much. Check them once or twice per day. Detach from the addiction to numb your mind and escape reality. Instead, get lost in the creative projects you’ve always wanted to do.
Where is the balance? The point where we can still take advantage of all technology has to offer, but also prevent it from consuming our lives, resulting in dependence. Isn't the fact that we have such terms as "texting thumb" now in our vocabulary a sign that we should pull back a little? Personally, I'd rather see my friends in the flesh, visit beautiful beaches, eat delicious food, create beautiful artwork, and twist my body into crazy yoga poses, than to see it all through the 4 inch screen in the palm of my hand. Those phones are tricky little beasts though, they seem to mold into our hands, but here's a few ideas.
- Phone and Bed, don't go together - Reading this, understanding it and practicing it are three very different things. It took me a while, with a few failures, but shutting off before and after sleep (1-2 hours) creates more peace than you may imagine.
- Make your phone work for you - of the 10,000+ aps out there, chose the ones that will actually benefit your life. Language learning, pod casts, fitness buddies, whatever it is, download those and try to avoid the social media, game addiction craze.
- Silence it - Remember the Pavlov experiment, proving our conditioning responses. Ever notice that you're phone does this to you? You know the friendly ding of a text message, or beep of a new facebook notification, turn them off. My phone has to be on silent at work and half the time I forget to switch it back on, but actually my life is better for it.