Monday, July 15, 2013

Distracted Living
Originally published in Dawson Creek Daily News July 9, 2013

If something life-changing occurs and no one takes an Instagram photo of it, did it ever really happen?

If it doesn’t appear in a Facebook timeline or get announced to the world in a tweet, do we still care?

We live in a world that measures the success or failure of a life event by the amount of “Likes” or “Retweets” that it generates [insert heavy sigh here].

Isn’t that kind of sad?

Instead of enjoying a memorable moment, we spend those moments taking video and pictures so that we can enjoy it later? We hide behind the camera or smartphone, looking down into our lap, tweeting, texting to prove that we were there. To whom are we proving it? Do you ever wonder what you are missing when you are looking into your lap?

Distracted DRIVING is deadly, but what about distracted LIVING?

We have lost the ability to live in the moment – myself included.

We love to listen to a great storyteller, but instead of allowing them to create an elaborately constructed picture in our minds we insist that they compress it into short, 140 character paragraphs. We request that they make it "tweetable".

Everything is getting shorter, faster – we are compressing life.

What is the answer? How can we begin living a less distracted life?
  • Turn off the phone at the end of the workday: easier said than done – I realize that (the only time my phone is off is when the battery dies). If you historically leave your phone on 24/7, ease into this concept slowly. Begin by turning it off at 9:00 p.m., and then decrease it by one hour each night. Who knows? Eventually you may be able to turn it off at 5 p.m. without feeling as though you are slacking off.
  • Announce your intentions: Change your voice message to something like, “If you are calling after 5 p.m., I will return your call after 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning”. Experts call this “setting boundaries”.
  • Quit being the family videographer!: If you must capture a moment on film – have someone else do it, leaving you to enjoy the actual moment as it occurs. There is no replay button on life.
  • Commit to one social media free day each week: Pick a day that you unplug from social media. No Facebook updates, no chatter on Twitter.

I am addicted to social media. I react like one of Pavlov's Dogs when I hear the “ding” of my blackberry. The urge to check my phone, to determine the origin of the ding (was it an email, a Facebook comment, a tweet) is so overwhelming that I disconnect from the actual moment.

This overload of technology is not making us smarter. A study by the British Institute of Psychiatry found that “…excessive use of technology reduced workers’ intelligence”. The IQ dropped significantly when under the influence of “infomania”.

Our “infomania” combined with the urge to multi-task is unhealthy. It causes stress, anxiety and who knows? It might even begin to change our brain chemistry.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Forever is composed of now’s”. She was right. Let’s make memories the old fashioned way, let’s live them.


No comments: