Day 8: No Technology Day

My 4AM challenge has fallen apart, but what I am trying to learn day on day is how to use my time more effectively. Something that helped me yesterday was doing a technology detox. I haven’t been on my phone or laptop yesterday for a good 12 hours and here are some of the things that I’ve noticed:

  • I felt like I have time
  • I had more energy to be active
  • I enjoyed my time more
  • I got to do things that I wouldn’t normally do (repotting plants, get on top of cleaning, read a new book)

Overall, limiting tech access for the bulk of the day helped me rediscover the things that I love doing. I will definitely incorporate no tech hours within my daily activities and push myself to use my laptop and phone only when it is absolutely necessary.

Technology & the ‘Constant Availability’ Dilemma.

I’ve recently noticed someone’s email signature having next to their phone number a ‘texts only’ notice.

The anxiety of who’s calling and why has to do with the culture of being always available. That leaves us vulnerable, lacking control over our own time. Texting is softer, but still quite intrusive.

Real-life scenarios:

you’re cooking dinner – someone messaged you – you drop everything – the food gets burnt

you’re walking on the street – message – you don’t look where you’re going – you get hit by a car

you’re in the park looking at the sky – message – you reply – a pigeon shits on you

We can’t tell people to text us or call us in a certain time interval. What can we do?

  1. Set aside time to check your phone – it can be three times a day of 20 minutes sessions
  2. Turn off notifications. The texts, missed calls, will all be there. Unless you’re a doctor or the president of the country. Then you might wanna get that.
  3. Take time to be on your phone out of *your own time*. Don’t make people – friends, kids, spouse – watch you while texting or speaking on the phone. If they’ve committed their time to you, be respectful of it.
  4. And finally, don’t expect things from people. Don’t expect them to always pick up. Not even your spouse. Expect from yourself that you can handle situations on your own without putting pressure on someone else.

In case you wonder, I did take my own advise and yes, I still have a support network. Controlling my phone time allows me to build more meaningful relationships and interactions in the present moment. It teaches me to work with what I’ve got and make the most out of it. Give it a go, you might surprise yourself.

Smartphone Dependency & Our Wellbeing Don’t Go Well Together

Even before having a Twitter account I engaged in debates over the effects that social media has on our behavior. Topics such as social isolation, bullying and harassment on one side and engagement, interaction, self-growth, networking on the other side were thrown around the table.

Did I ever wonder at that point about the role that technology plays and not just about the role of social media? Not at all.

A recent study led by researcher Matthew Lapierre from the University of Arizona looked at smartphone dependency and its connection to depression. The study revealed that it becomes problematic when people are using smartphones to replace or escape living their non-virtual existence.

Extreme reliance on our device, anxiety if we get separated from it for even a moment or two, are signs of later depression and loneliness. What can we do?

Exercise:

Live without your smartphone for 12 hours (sleeping doesn’t count).

  1. Let your loved ones know that you will be out of reach for 12 hours.
  2. Turn off the device or put it away, on silent.
  3. Live. Walk. Breath. Carry on with your day.
  4. Keep a journal of the experience.
  5. At the end of the 12 hours after feasting in the use of technology, read what you’ve wrote.
  6. How does that make you feel?

“If depression and loneliness lead to smartphone dependency, we could reduce dependency by adjusting people’s mental health, but if smartphone dependency (precedes depression and loneliness), which is what we found, we can reduce smartphone dependency to maintain or improve wellbeing.”

Communication Master’s Student Pengfei Zhao, Study Co-Authored

Resources:

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression? by Matthew Lapierre. Pengfei Zhao and Benjamin Custer