When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with one word. MODERATION. The sign sat for years, somewhat incongruously, in our living room, so it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, or entering and leaving the house. It was also perfectly placed for the times when my parents’ college students came over to the house for extra study help.
Dad’s goal was for us to think, as often as possible, about self-regulating and managing our daily activities, whether we were engaged in a favorite or a not-so-favorite endeavor.
In today’s hyper-connected world, understanding the importance of moderation is a critical skill. We all — adults and children — live fast-paced 21st-Century lives that center on the media and our digital devices. Thus everyone needs to know how to hit the pause button, disengage, and refocus attention elsewhere.
It’s been nearly four weeks since I wrote Digital Device Time Off, a post that described how one individual readjusted his extreme mobile phone habits, aiming to become less addicted to using his phone to fill every moment of the day.
After writing the post, I decided to keep track of my phone use, and lo and behold, I discovered that I have some of the same tendencies. So, I made a resolution to cut back a bit.
Does too much technology, with our smartphones especially, interfere with the quality and the personal connections in our lives? Do we concentrate less because of the unceasing demands of our digital devices?
I’ve just finished reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s December 2016 article, Technology is Diminishing Us, and he makes thoughtful points about how, despite the good things that 21st Century digital devices bring to our lives, they can also diminish our daily emotional responses and contemplative experiences. The author reflects, with a personal emphasis, on digital distractions that increasingly disrupt of face-to-face communication, and his ideas connect well with the conclusions that Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor Sherry Turkle shares in her books Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversations,also well worth reading.
Foer, whose essay appeared in The Guardian, notes that early on technological innovations aimed to help people more easily accomplish daily life tasks — telephones replaced letters, answering machines supplemented phone calls, email made communication even easier and texting easier still. Each change or invention sought to help people communicate more efficiently and effectively (in theory). Yet all this ease of use comes with caveats. The devices that connect us to others almost all of the time and to unlimited information whenever we seek it, have become electronic busybodies, obsessively notifying, alerting, locating, and suggesting (even when we try to turn many of the features off) as we attempt to concentrate, interact with others, and get things done. Most of us do little to stop these interruptions. Continue reading “Without Moderation & Mindfulness Tech Can Diminish Our Personal Lives”→