Disconnect to Re-Connect

Recently I read a post on Girls Heart Books in which the author spoke about taking her teenagers on a vacation in a location where they could not (easily) access any Wi-Fi. The post got me thinking about the joys and failings of constantly being connected.

We live in a world where we can be connected to the entire rest of the planet all the time. We have smartphones small enough to keep in our back pocket, with enough power in them to handle almost anything we can do on a larger computer, and for the most part we can constantly have them connected to the internet and everything that entails.

In a lot of ways, having constant access makes life a lot easier. We can check on our work from home (or anywhere else we happen to be). We can contact friends and family members from wherever we are. If we’re lost, our phone’s can show us exactly where we are and how to get where we’re going. If we have a question we can access Google anytime, anywhere. We can talk to people on the other side of the planet. We have constant access to multiple forms of entertainment.

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Image via Flikr WANA Commons, courtesy of Dani Jace.

But as great as all of this can be, it’s also dangerous, because so many of us these days have what’s (creatively) known as “smartphone addiction”. We use our smartphones to check our email dozens of times a day, even though we know there probably isn’t anything new there. We spend more time Tweeting and updating our Facebook statuses than actually paying attention to the world and the things we’re updating about. Our brains have a hard time remember things because we subconsciously know that we can find anything out with the few clicks of the keyboard. We share fewer actual face-to-face social reactions because we can’t get our heads off of online social media. People have even been known to walk out into traffic because they refused to look up from their smartphone screens.

I’m not high-and-mighty; I know that I’m as bad as anyone. I’ve checked my email more times in one day than the number of emails I got in that day, and I’ve been known to not notice people talking to me because I had my head buried in 9GAG. But I know enough to know that all these things are bad things. Many of the habits we’ve adopted because of “smartphone addiction” are huge time vampires, actually take us away from our friends and families rather than bringing us closer to them, and regularly put us in danger (see the aforementioned walking into traffic).

So all I’m saying is to take a break every now and then. Put the Android down and look your loved one’s in the face. Watch the fireworks instead of trying to film them with your iPhone. And for the love of puppies, your text can wait until you have a chance to stand still for a moment.

Have you ever noticed how much time you waste on your smartphone? Have you ever gotten frustrated because of someone else who can’t get their eyes off the screen? Have you, or someone you love, ever gotten into an accident because of smartphone addiction? Please share!

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One thought on “Disconnect to Re-Connect

  1. I’m reminded of my childhood summers spent at summer camp. The last two years of which I spent in a cabin in the middle of the woods without electricity, however we did have running water and an outhouse.

    It was at that time that I had spent the entire summer essentially off-the-grid in the summers of 1993 & 1994. I went back to visit this past weekend (there will be a subsequent blog post about the experience for sure), and met up with some friends I have had, continually, since age 11. Back then there was no Internet so we relied on handwritten letters and the occasional phone call. This small handful of us share a bond, even today, where nothing is too taboo or off-limits to discuss openly with one another. In fact we can discuss things that we would never feel comfortable telling our doctors, therapists, or spouse about.

    There is just something magical about long-term loving and caring friendships that go far and beyond those which exist only through social media.

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