Our world has become a place where you will see people walking and instead of looking ahead or up, people will be looking down. They will be looking down at their screens, glued to them and texting away. Before this kind of scene could only be found in movies, where men in suits looking busy, used to be shown walking with their eyes on their phones all the time or where they were shown talking on the phone all the time. Now this can actually be seen in the real world. We have become so obsessed with technology.
These days’ people are tethered to their phones, laptops and electronic devices. It does not stop at business individuals or men, but this phenomenon has extended to women, to guys, to girls and to even kids. It used to be that we human beings ‘used’ our devices and the technology available to us; now it has changed to it being that the technology and devices, control us.
Our lives have become so busy and we are always on the move. Technology has become the norm now. Every other person has at least a computer and a mobile phone. Our minds are continuously multi-tasking, going from one task to another. We get stressed out from too much work at the office, we get frustrated by things we have to do at home and on top of that we have to keep up with technology as well. We have to use technology to communicate with people. Whether it is to email our boss or colleagues, whether it is to talk to our friends on the phone or text messaging, or finally, whether it is to become an anonymous individual and go in to the social networking world.
Sometimes we get so stressed out from multi-tasking all the time and using technology, that we need a break. We need a break from our mobile phones, we need a break from our laptops and we need a break from communicating with people 24/7. This is what Digital Detox is. Digital Detox in essence is taking a break from technology. It is taking a break from anything digital, be it technology or be it the internet. There are two kinds of Digital Detox. One is the E-tox, where we restrict ourselves from the usage of electronic and/or digital devices and one is the Digitox, which is a detoxification process in which we stop the use of social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Funny enough, people are already following the Digitox method, without even knowing it. It is the instance where someone knows what the principle consists of, but does not know the name. People take breaks from ‘tweeting’ all the time on Twitter and those breaks, they refer to as a ‘Twitter break’, which is basically the same thing. It is self-imposed and they restrict themselves from posting or using a social networking website. This is a good thing, because constant use of digital media seems to be affecting our lives in a lot many different ways.
According to Matt Rictel, in a study published in the NY Times, ‘perpetual use of digital media seems to be taking a toll on people’s lives and their ability to focus.’ Now we don’t need to use our brain, because we have started to over use it and exhaust it. We need to rest it. We human beings are constantly connected using technology and doing one thing or the other. Multi-tasking, what most people proudly say they are doing. However, detoxification is needed because people have started to do too much multi-tasking.
First of all there is no such thing as multi-tasking. It just seems like we human beings are doing multiple tasks at the same time, when in reality, the brain is computing tasks so quickly, that it switches from one task to another without us knowing it, in most cases. Some people can ‘multi-task’ effectively, but most people have problems with doing too many things at the same time. The more technology in our life, the more we are multi-tasking throughout the day. We talk on the phone, we write emails, we do our assignments, and we watch television and so many other things together at the same time.
Studies have proved that constant multi-tasking is associated with shallower thinking¸ weakened concentration, reduced creativity and heightened stress. What we need to do is, is to reduce multi-tasking and distance ourselves from our busy lives. We need to take a vacation. Now, not all of us are blessed with the resources available to take vacations, so the least we can do is take a break from the things that keep us busy.
One of the main things that keep us busy these days is technology; whether it is our computer or our Blackberries. Take the example of Becky Bloomwood, the main protagonist of the Shopaholic series of books. A lot of women are big fans of this series and would have probably read it. Becky Bloomwood is not different to a lot of women out there these days. She has a Blackberry, she has bills she can’t pay, and she is over her credit limit and shops like crazy. Even when in the book she visits a therapist, or in another book in the series she goes to a Spa, while getting a massage or in a counselling session, she is constantly on her Blackberry and the Masseur asks her to switch the phone off. Instead of switching it off, she pretends that she has switched it off and continuously checks her e-mail. Point is, we have gotten so busy and addicted to technology, just like Becky Bloomwood, that we forego our mental peace and relaxation to use our devices.
Now, technology is not bad for us. However, its extended use is. While there are pros to technology, there are the cons too. We should use technology when it is necessary or in moderation. These days’ people are so addicted to technology, that they use it the good part of the day. We have become slaves to technology. We have zombies in a way. Some people today are like the humans that they show in the movie Wall-E. People have become completely dependent on machines to do everything for them. People are engaged to staring at their screens 24/7.
We need to detoxify ourselves, because being addicted to technology has dire consequences. Many people feel lethargic after sitting on their workplace chair all day doing work on the computer and then when they come home they don’t feel like doing anything or they don’t feel like going out. Children have become addicted to playing games on gaming consoles and games on the computer. Some kids, teenagers and even adults, play games the whole day and stay in their rooms. They are surrounded by an abundance of technology and if they get tired of doing one thing, they will just do something else but still using some sort of an electronic device.
These kinds of teenagers have minimal outside world interaction and even if they do interact with someone, it is either on social networking websites as strangers or in the virtual gaming world. These kinds of individuals have problems interacting with other people and they don’t know how to deal with the outside world. These kinds of individuals will face a lot of problems in the future. Parents of kids and teenagers should take away technology from their children for a while, so that they can do other things and have a balanced life. Adults, who are addicted to technology, should take a break as well.
Technology has to a certain extent made our lives easier. Not everything is bad about technology, obviously. Technological advances have resulted in significant human advances as well; such as in the field of medical science, where a robot can do a surgery. The Internet has allowed us to connect to our loved ones, which are sitting far away. A person can write for a column or magazine being published from Lahore, from Dubai for instance as well. We using technology have a lot to do with companies and organisations enforcing technology over us as well. We are so buried under technology and technology has become such a part of everyday life, that in most instances we have no choice but to use technology.
If a person is abreast of new technological advancements and implements it in his/her home or life, then that is fine. However, if the person or any individual from the person’s family, are obsessed with the gadget or technological innovation, then there creates a problem. In a way if you look at it, we are also forced to use our devices, because everything has become so digital in nature. Human beings are getting suffocated, underneath the façade of something being beneficial for us.
So, why would you want to go on a Digital Detox? You might be wondering that. Just like it was said earlier, technology is not bad for us, it is very helpful in most cases, just that we have started to over use it. Why? That is because everything is so easily available now. In the past, chat messengers were only available on the computers. Now they are available on almost every mobile phone in the market and due to cheap rates and easy Wi-Fi availability, people chat on Messengers more from their mobile phones now. Mobile phones in the past had only the function of calls at first and then calls and text messaging.
Now mobile phones themselves come with so many functions, that it is hard to put one down. It is no longer the case that we will only use our mobile when there is a call or when a text message is received. Thanks to smartphones like Blackberry and iPhone, with varied functionality, we are continuously using our phones throughout the day, whether to check our Facebook notifications, our Twitter Direct Messages and notifications, our WhatsApp or BlackBerry Messenger messages and/or our Skype calls.
Sometimes a person just gets fed up of incessantly receiving messages and trying to reply to every one of them. Sometimes, all you want is to do is to go away from everything; the laptop, the mobile phone, the social networking websites, the being in touch with people all the time. This is what Digital Detox is and this is why a person should go on it. If you can’t, the least you can do is minimize your use of using technology in your daily routine and try to have technology free weekends.
What fun would it be if you went on a vacation, spent all that amount of money, if you just expended that vacation sitting at home or in your hotel room, using the hotel Wi-Fi. You will be missing out on exploring the city, taking in what the city offers you, interacting with a different culture and people, if you just stay inside, or even when you are outside, you use your mobile phone or technological device like an mp3 player the whole time. Camera would not be brought in to this, because a Camera allows you to take a snap shot of the memories that you are making in your mind, while on your vacation and see them later. Point is, when we go on a vacation these days, we are so obsessed with staying connected. Think about not staying connected, the next time you go on a vacation and see the difference. The world can know about all your adventures and what fun you had on your trip, ‘after’ you are done with it.