Use Technology to Enhance not Distract

Health, January 13, 2020

Are you in control of your technology? Is it serving you or controlling you?

We need to examine how we live our lives to help understand what aspects are contributing to societies rise in anxiety and depression. Socrates and others throughout history have pleaded with human kind to stop and look at how we live otherwise our lives will not be worth living. 


We are living in a time of enhanced connection through technology. With over 2.8 billion uses on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms (2.2 billion people use at least one platform - FB, Instagram or WhatsApp - EVERY day) we are easily able to "communicate" with a multitude of people at a touch of a button. Even with this rise in connection why are people feeling more isolated and disconnected leading to a surge in mental health issues? A recent report conducted by Massey University showed there was a significant link between internet use and decreased overall wellness. The measure of wellness was holistic including a range of measures from depression, feelings of isolation, and general self esteem. Physical connection - being face to face, and in each others space is where the real magic happens in regards to nurturing relationships. Another study put out named "The World Happiness Report" demonstrated the amount of time teenagers spent online increased at the same rate as real person interaction decreased, as well as a dip in happiness (along with sleep time - check out my article on the power of a good nights sleep )

The World happiness report discussed how social comparison can negatively effect feelings of well-being, especially when you are constantly comparing your life with a multitude of other peoples carefully sculptured highlights. Comparison can be the "theft all joy" as Theodore Roosevelt stated - although I feel we need to drip feed comparison into our focus in a way that motivates to strive rather than drives us to despair. As a society we need to water the grass we are on instead of spending time scrolling though the green grass of others. 

Technology isn't bad if you know what you want to achieve in your day. If you aren't proactive in your life it's too easy for social media to suck you in and waste large chunks of time. If you don't have a purpose and you are killing time waiting for the weekend then you will find that technology will increasingly enslave you. As Yuval Noah Harari states in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, big corporations are gradually hacking humans through technology. If you want to retain control of your life and not become an "enslaved zombie" then get to know yourself; strive for purpose before Amazon and other agencies fill that void, setting their agenda for your life (check out my article "Know thine self" for some tips on purpose )


"When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning,  they distract themselves with pleasure." Viktor Frankl


Happiness and joy is closely related to a number of factors. A TED talk that I viewed recently suggested that we should strive for purpose and happiness will follow as a byproduct. As someone with a great spiritual awareness stated - happiness is much like a butterfly - if you chase it then it will allude you, but if you sit quietly then it will gently settle upon you. Some factors that help with feelings of happiness are being part of a community. Having a tribe that you feel comfortable to be yourself is important for personal growth and having people that respect you enough to give you constructive feedback.  Moving in nature is also directly related to creating joy. One of the latest podcasts by Rich Roll was interviewing Kelly McGonigal PhD (RRP #491) - Kelly, who is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, talks about falling in love with movement to help with joy, and how chasing meaning is far better for overall health that chasing happiness (allow that happiness butterfly to settle). You might have heard of Kelly McGonigal before with her incredible TED talk "How to make stress your friend" with over 9 million views to date. I would also suggest that the practice of meditation helps give you time to be more proactive rather that reactive to thoughts and feelings. Meditation is the ultimate defrag for the most important, and complex organ in your body - the brain. (Please check out my article on the importance of mindfulness and look at starting your practice today )


Ways to be proactive with technology 

1)None for 60min before sleep - Use this time to connect back to you, or downshift with a book. Research has shown that the screen will interfere with your sleep quality by interrupting melatonin production. 
2)Give priority to REAL interactions - Put your phone away when you are catching up with friends of family. Give the person in front of you full attention - to even have the phone on the table facedown is a statement that you are not fully present. 
3)Be proactive in the morning - The first moments on waking set the tone for the day. Make sure your phone is on airplane mode or off so you are not tempted to reach for it. Use your first 5-60min on waking to do some self care, meditate, move, stretch, or write - be proactive rather than allowing others to set your daily agenda. 

4)Make time to interact with your people - Schedule in more catch ups with people. Make time for a group jog, walk, ocean swim, or a catch up at your favourite cafe. Real connection with real people (especially moving in nature) is so powerful in combating disconnection, and depression while enhancing community.