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The Importance Of Learning To Unplug: Why You Shouldn’t Let Technology Run Your Life

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Tony Michaels

We live in a society fueled by advanced technology and electronics, a society in which our faces are constantly glued to our devices. We numb our minds with music at ear-drum-bursting volumes rather than actively participating in the discourse of our surroundings. Potentially, we’re missing out on a lot.

On a typical Monday morning, I sat while sipping coffee. My phone was perched on the desk in front of me, set to vibrate so I wouldn’t miss anything important. But, it got me wondering about the ever-increasing attachment we have to our devices and the adverse effects that addiction may have on our universal well-being.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized: this ever-present access to others and to information may ease anxieties about missing out, but the overall result has been detrimental. It has fostered an inability to be alone, especially among those who have been plugged-in from an early age.

The other day a friend of mine shared an observation that he made in line at Chipotle. He looked at the people who were standing in the long line that snaked out the door. Every single one, he said, was staring straight down into phones. Playing games, texting, using Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. What might have ensued had all these people left their phones at home? Maybe they would have been forced to engage in an actual, interpersonal conversation.

Generation-Y has a unique problem to navigate, a problem no generation of human beings has faced before. The addiction to trolling social media and other mobile activities is slowly but surely diminishing the quality of our lives. Think about all time you spend on your iPad or phone, all the time you spend wearing headphones.

Now, remove the devices. What remains? Every time you unplug, you create an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger. It’s not difficult — try to sit down at the dinner table with family without tweeting about it.

With our over-stimulating tech habits firmly established, unplugging is a fate easier intuited than achieved, but this realization should not serve as an excuse to try. Work some technology-free time into your day.

Don’t look at a screen for an hour during this designated time. Completely unplug, and observe what happens. Initially, anxiety may set in that you might have missed a text or an exciting Facebook notification, or some other menial tech development. But, after a few unplugged sessions, you will feel empowerment for successfully freeing yourself from the devices that generally rule over you.

Do we not have enough stress and annoyance in our lives that we look for ways to feel more? With social institutions like Facebook in place, we really struggle at times to face reality. Scroll through your newsfeed right now. You’ll read things like “just got into dental school!” and “can’t believe we’ve been together for 3 years!” or “skydiving in Switzerland was amazing!” While these status updates aren’t meant to be boastful, the result is a constant competition between people to create an illusion that all is well with the world — except for your world.

On social media, people only project the positives in their lives, which leads you to disproportionately emphasize your negatives. I’m not saying it isn’t fun to share your experiences with your friends and the world, but must we really drown our brains with a constant flow of useless information? It isn’t good for our health, and that’s why we need to take a breath to unplug once in a while.

It’s bad enough that we’ll interrupt our real lives, with people we love, to engage in lonely tech updates. But, more and more, people are opting for screen time in favor of real life company.

Next time you scan your email, texts, and social networks, remember to ask yourself what you just gained from what you read and how it made you feel. Obviously, you’re reading this post on a screen, which I know is very ironic. But don’t read this article and think, “hey, that’s actually true,” then do nothing to make a change. Actually give it a try. Unplug from the cyber world and see what happens. Maybe you’ll be surprised.

Tony Michaels

Tony Michaels

Contributor

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