Nowadays, it seems as if it is becoming harder to take a break from modern technology. For work, for personal networking, and for leisure, technology has an influence almost everywhere. Internet use in particular is something especially hard to step away from, even for small amounts of time. This is something observable with humans of all ages. Preteens are fascinated with Internet, and rightly so. They have access to almost an infinite amount of information, and this can serve as a huge learning experience, especially when in such an early stage of life. Teenagers and young adults may use the Internet heavily, whether it be for communicating, homework, a need to waste free time (boredom), or what have you. Finally, adults of all ages use the Internet for every previously mentioned reason, and it still doesn't seem to become "old" to even them. The Internet is a fascinating thing, holding usefulness for every type of human being.
The web has undeniable benefits. But, there are some side effects of its use that may be pushed into the corners of thought and totally forgotten about. For example, journalist Nicholas Carr recently observed that "over the past few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain… I'm not thinking the way I used to think. … Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages [of reading]. I get fidgety, lose the thread…". Carr's observation was expanded on by David Skrbina, who states, "he [Carr] lays the blame on Internet 'power browsing,' which places highest priority on efficiency and immediacy, causing everything else to take a back seat - in particular, deep reflection and sustained concentration."
Well, hey, deep reflection and sustained concentration are pretty neat things to be capable of doing. After all, these are part of the things that make us human. Some nights of the week, these two things may even trump refreshing your Twitter feed. Instead of reading 140 characters about what is happening outside of your life, try some self-reflection. Who knows what might happen!
Here are some points that may help one to disconnect, even just temporarily:
Turn off your cellphone (or computer) during recreation, downtime and at night.
Photo by Christian Bauer, Wikimedia Commons
A cellphone - especially a smartphone - seems to create a strange, false urge inside of us, a begging for some sort of updating. The number of times I have seen someone aimlessly use their cellphone is mind blowing. Whether it is checking the time after just checking it five minutes earlier, or whether it is scrolling through all of the applications on a phone for no purpose at all, these are "false urges." It is undeniable that these strange habits can be eliminated, and obviously without any ill side effects. Turning off a phone or computer for bits of time is a start to trimming down on "power browsing," and a step towards deep reflection and improved concentration.
Only check social media X times a day.
Photo by Brian Kerrigan, Wikimedia Commons
Social media is important for many people of all ages. In terms of the uses and gratifications theory, social media satisfies many of our needs and wants. Diversion from reality and surveillance of the outside world are just two examples of this. Social media can lead to compulsive, negative behavior. This is deeply researched, and our brains can suffer from a sort of social media addiction. By limiting social media refreshing to X times a day (let's say three times), one can still fulfill their need for surveillance among other things without getting too carried away. Far too frequently I observe myself and others checking their social media accounts an extremely large number of times a day. This is, simply put, unhealthy. Try to limit yourself, stick to it, and observe the positive change in the way your mind functions.
Find other ways to enjoy recreation.
Photo by Casito, Wikimedia Commons
TV shows, movies, music, social media, instant messaging, forums, picture galleries, all of these recreational activities are part of the virtual world. By reducing virtual recreation and finding outside ways of enjoying yourself, disconnecting becomes easier. And even more, almost all recreational activities outside of technology use are healthier! The typical, sedentary lifestyle of the modern man has its ill effects, and working towards an active lifestyle is not just physically rewarding, but mentally rewarding as well.
Trim the fat of your online existence.
Photo by Harland Quarrington, Wikimedia Commons
There are few legitimate reasons to have an account for every single website and service available. Sure, in certain circumstances and depending on who you are, having an account for everything could be beneficial, but mostly this just builds clutter and confusion. Just like with having a messy house with too many belongings, having a life on the computer can get messy as well. Try to trim down your accounts and liberate yourself from the virtual clutter.
Just like with everything else, small steps at a time are needed to achieve an end goal. By slowly disconnecting yourself from the Internet, no "withdrawal" is created so to speak, and ultimately the reward of not suffering from the inability to reflect and concentrate is achieved.
Check out Marc Bago's blog here: http://bagotechblog.tumblr.com/