We live in a fast paced world. In fact, the amount of information coming at us…excuse me just a moment…my friend just texted something funny…it’ll only take me a second to respond. Now, as I was saying, we have access to more…wait just a minute, this may be my hairdresser calling. I’m so sorry. So anyway, I was trying to make a point about… whoa, my favorite actor just tweeted that his next movie is being filmed entirely underwater! How cool is that?! Okay…now, what is it we were discussing?
Take a moment and think about this – when was the last time you carried on a face to face conversation without having at least one technological interruption? You know, there’s no doubt technology is amazing. The huge advancements made in recent years allow us to be more connected than ever to the world around us. Yet, as we’ve incorporated more and more new technologies into our daily lives, we’ve gradually slipped into isolation inside our own little virtual worlds. Technology has its many pluses, but, unfortunately, is a poor substitute for the real human relationships we all crave and need.
In our frenetic techno crazed culture, studies show our attention spans are steadily decreasing while the expectation that we must be available to everyone immediately is increasing. But is it really necessary to be so technologically tethered every moment of every day? Not that many years ago, none of today’s techno toys existed, yet somehow we survived…and even thrived.
Take a Time Out
Smartphones, laptops, TVs, e-mail, web surfing, texting, instant messaging, blogging, social networking, gaming – with seemingly unlimited technological innovations bombarding us, what’s an electronically overwhelmed person to do? The answer may lie in the growing trend of taking a technology sabbath. When you hear the word “sabbath,” it’s generally thought of in the context of a religious observance marking a weekly day of rest. But the word “sabbath”– derived from a Hebrew word meaning “to cease” – also seems quite appropriate to describe the concept of taking a technological time-out.
Now, if the thought of disconnecting from your virtual world makes you a little queasy, relax. The purpose of a technology sabbath is for your own personal refreshment and well-being, so you are free to set your own boundaries. Most people find that completely unplugging for one twenty-four hour period each week is good medicine for techno overload. Alternatively, you may simply decide to fast from only your most distracting technological gadgets for one evening a week or even one day per month. As a courtesy to others, it’s a good idea to let people know you will be offline and when you will respond to their messages.
A techno sabbath may take some getting used to in our technology obsessed society, but as you begin experiencing the benefits of unplugging, it will get easier. Temporarily cutting the technological umbilical cord opens up numerous possibilities for meaningful experiences in the real world. Spend time pushing your kids on the swings at the park. Go camping or hiking in the woods. Linger over a cup of coffee and a good book. Have friends over for dessert. Practice the lost art of real conversation. Build relationships with the people you love. You’ll find that disconnecting technologically allows you to not only reconnect with your family, friends, and community, but will also help you rediscover your own self.
By all means, enjoy today’s technologies, but balance is key. At the end of your life, will you really wish you had spent more time online, or are there other things that matter more?