Blog Challenge, Reflections

Disconnect To Reconnect

Welcome to Day 13 of #30PostsHathSept. [PLEASE READ all my other challenge posts HERE.] I hope you find this informational!


I’ll come right out and say it: Just face it…In today’s digitized and busy world you’ll never get all your work done, all your emails read, all your ideas realized, or all your hopes for productivity fulfilled.

Welcome to reality.

By the end of 2015 it is projected that 4.1 billion people around the world will have email accounts. With an average of 125 emails for each recipient per day, that amounts to over 512 billion emails sent daily.

Researchers in 2012 estimated people spend 28% (3 hours per day) of the day reading, deleting, and answering emails.

Add to this the time involved in instant messaging (estimated by the end of 2015 to grow to 3.8 billion accounts), and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc) at nearly 4 billion users.

While landline phone usage may be dwindling, smartphone users worldwide exceed 2.6 billion people, with projections of 6.1 billion users by 2020. That’s over 70% of the population of the entire planet.

Yes. I get it. We’re all connected. But are we really connected?

Add to this the 24/7 mentality of productivity and the term “wired” connotes far more than the transfer of information digitally via the Internet. We are becoming wired in more ways than one. The tense and edgy state so many of us live in on a day-to-day basis is undoubtedly affecting our general well being.

Technology definitely has numerous positive uses, with more being developed everyday. One can find endless articles about the amazing progress in computer technology. But is the constant connectedness a good thing?

Would adding downtime to our hectic schedules be a healthy move forward? Are we, in some sense, avoiding introspection?

Researchers are beginning to look into the negatives of not disengaging and disconnecting. The New York Times held a debate in 2013 on the rise in narcissism with frequent computer use. Dr. Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, in her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, explores the confusion between virtual relationships and real relationships. There is also a focus on the development and nurturing of outward identities, at the cost of inward self-awareness.

There are also growing concerns of a possible diminishing of empathy with technology use, and how that may bode for future relationships. Children may be at risk in two ways. Their developing brains may be more susceptible to technology, but they are also watching adult’s sometimes excessive habits.

Adults do have problems reining in their technology habits.

Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, published an article in 2014 in which participants in a series of eleven studies showed that not only did 83% state they spend zero time “relaxing or thinking” when external tasks were removed, but when placed in exactly such a situation, 57.5% felt it difficult to concentrate, 89% felt their minds wandering, and nearly half didn’t like it at all. The majority (67%) of men in the studies, when given a choice between receiving $5 to spend 15 minutes in quiet thought or giving themselves an electric shock to avoid the 15 minute period, chose to give themselves the shock.

Kate Unsworth, CEO of Kovert Designs, recently did a study on 35 CEOs to examine their behavior on and off of technology. Her results were interesting. She was able to show that after three days without technology, the CEOs were more empathetic, more relaxed, and more likely to engage using eye contact with others in the group. Memory also seems to improve when access to Google is eliminated. Not a surprise, given that studies have found negative effects on memory recall in the presence of increasing Internet use.

Our sleep may also be adversely affected by technology, as the blue light involved in artificial lighting suppresses melatonin production, the hormone that assists our sleep.

We know free time to allow one’s mind to wonder is a stimulus for creativity. This isn’t news. Many successful people in history reserved time for socialization and downtime. A study by Stanford University found walking increased creative thinking.

So what is a person to do?

• Set a firm schedule for your digital use whenever possible. For example, schedule social media and email for specific times each day and do not feel tempted to break your rules.

• Find physical outlets such as walking to prompt spontaneous creativity or resolve problems that have left you stuck. Other forms of exercise are excellent choices, unless you tend to use technology while exercising.

• Music listening is one excellent form of technology that can stimulate creativity, not inhibit it.

• Begin a creative hobby. Some people find they can actually think better and more deeply when playing an instrument, knitting, painting, or a variety of other methods of creative expression.

• Stop using technology at least 1-2 hours prior to bedtime, so that the negative effects of blue light are diminished. Consider also changing your bedroom light bulbs for ones that block the blue light spectrum. Some believe blue light-blocking glasses might benefit sleep, though studies are incomplete.

• Try digital detox weekends. Instead of spending time online, strongly consider spending more face-to-face time with friends and family. Spend time on your own as well doing some of the items already mentioned above.

• If you are a parent, please put your technology away as much as possible and interact in a real sense with your children. Play together and share hobbies, exercise, and walks.

• Consider a meditation program. So many studies confer a positive effect on brain functioning and emotions. Mindfulness alleviates stress, and can play a role in inflammation reduction.

• Rid your surroundings of excessive distractions by adopting a motto of “Simplify”.

• Be realistic in what you can accomplish each day. Strive for prioritizing.

• Nurture and protect downtime in your lives, away from technology. Take some time to focus on your inner thoughts to inspire creativity.

• Finding time to rest and do nothing can be both creative and life-changing. Don’t allow technology to own you. Take control of your lives again. Connect!

Good luck!

[You can enjoy all the daily posts from the #30PostsHathSept bloggers HERE]

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  1. Pingback: Once Upon A Bedtime | Marianne Kuzujanakis

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