I need a tech detox. I just saw that movie The Circle, with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. The film is about the future implications of social media – it is super thought-provoking, a little frightening, and something that I think everyone should watch. In fact, it got me thinking about the role that social media plays in my life.
If I don’t post about my movie date and tag my girlfriend, does our interaction still matter?
We are addicted.
We all see it everyday. People walking down the sidewalk…and staring at their phones. Couples out for dinner together…and staring at their phones. Mom’s pushing their babies on the swings at the park…and staring at their phones. Groups of teenagers sitting around a table at the coffeeshop and, yep, looking at their phones. Don’t you find it ironic that “social media” is so anti-social?
Americans check their phones between 35 and 75 times per day, depending on age group.
When we are looking at our phones, we are disconnected from the absolute gift of the present moment. We are missing the things that are happening around us. We are missing opportunities for real connection. We have more “friends and followers” and less people that we actually know and care about intimately. We are constantly checking to see if there is something we are missing — a call, a text, a message, a like.
We are screaming for virtual attention and connection.
And don’t get me wrong. I am definitely one of those tech-addicted Americans posting, texting, calling, and ignoring the people that are trying to connect with me in real time (sorry kiddos). I have this underlying fear that if I am not on social media, somehow I just don’t exist. The world will forget about me. I will be out of the loop. Disconnected. Alone.
Besides. It is a professional tool, right? How will I promote my business? How will I share information? We are told that it is an “essential” part of being in business today, and we have to participate in order to be relevant.
Don’t worry, I am not telling you that you have to stop your sordid love affair with the toxic apps on your phone. But I do want to suggest that we reevaluate what is truly important and give our attention to the people, things, events, and activities that are actually in front of us.
We have grown accustomed to IMMEDIATE response time. My phone malfunctioned last month and I did not receive any texts, and I had friends that thought I was being inconsiderate. But we do not ALWAYS receive the data that we have come to depend on so heavily. We can’t judge relationships on digital interactions.
As much as our bodies need to chemically detox, our lives and relationships need a tech detox.
So if we are not going to boycott social media (it’s tempting), how do we slowly shift our lives back toward connectivity, face-to-face interaction, and living in the present moment? Here are a few ways to reduce your DEPENDENCY on that smart phone that lives in your hand (not even in your pocket).
Ten Tips for a Gentle Tech Detox:
- Wear a watch. How many times a day do you take your phone out just to check the time? And then you get distracted by all your notifications and *BAM* you are staring at your phone again. Just wear a watch.
- Listen to audio books in the car. Texting and driving is deadly. Even checking your phone for a quick second while driving can have devastating results. Get a good audio book and you won’t even think about checking your phone. (You can check it when you are parked at your destination.)
- Keep you phone in your pocket or your purse — not in your hand. Especially if you are out with friends, on a date, with your kids, or driving in the car. Have respect for the people around you. Honor their presence and their time. You can check it when you are done driving, talking, walking, etc.
- Turn off notifications. If someone needs to contact you immediately, they will call you. You don’t need to be notified every time someone likes your Instagram post.
- Keep Social Media as a strategic business tool. The implications of social media are baffling. Intimate details of your private life are made public. Be aware of the implications. Your social media profiles are your resume in this age. Ask yourself if you want your future employer, “big brother”, your parents, or your children to see this part of your private life.
- Make friends for real. There is no substitute for human connection and one authentic friend is worth infinitely more than a thousand social media followers. Cherish your friendships. Talk to the people you love. Don’t think that a “like” every now and again is a means of maintaining a real friendship.
- Put your phone on silent. All those dings and bings are so distracting! Keep your phone on silent, get the things done that you need to get done. If you need to respond to work related texts, phone messages, or emails, set a time to check your phone – once every half hour. This will likely increase your productivity.
- De-prioritize social media. Again, social media is a valuable tool for business marketing and sharing moments with people that you may not get to see often enough. But you can check it once per day, and upload your posts once per day. Don’t get sucked into the black hole every 15 minutes. YOUR precious life is too short.
- BE with the people you are with. Here is how I think about it. If we have carved time out of our busy schedules and are enjoying a rare coffee together, let’s enjoy it. If you want to look at your phone instead of me, you can just follow me on Facebook. Right? Enjoy the HUMAN that is front of you and cherish their REALITY.
- Try a Tech-free Tuesday Night. Just for fun, commit to having a Tech-free Tuesday night. No iPads, no iPhones, no TV…you have to think of some other way to interact with each other and the world. Play a board game with your kids, go for a walk outside, start an art project…just take a little break TOGETHER.
Let me know how you feel about your phone, your relationship with technology, your virtual boundaries and challenges, and the ways that your are connecting in REAL TIME.