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LGLWSM Newsletter 077 - Just Plug it Out!
February 01, 2014
It’s usually the wee hours of the morning when I wrap things up on my computer. I work non-stop during the week, making sure to update social media pages by either commenting, posting, 'liking', '+ing' or 'pinning'. When I finally get off my computer early Saturday morning, I turn off my monitor, watch an hour of TV, then get some long overdue rest.
For the rest of the weekend, I steer clear of my PC and try not to get too involved with anything that’s tech related. In the first place, my eyes and fingers need a break but so does my mind.
The techno-Gods would have me staying plugged in but I instinctively know better. By the time the weekend rolls around, I NEED to unplug!
The sad truth is that most people live their lives today totally engorged in technology. Texting allows us to ‘chat it up’ with our friends or family very quickly, but has it really made us closer together? In a word, no. We are more isolated now than we’ve ever been before, in all of history.
Tablets, e-readers, cell phones, computers, and all the latest gadgets keep up hopping. We emerge ourselves in other peoples lives, as if we were very close friends and pat ourselves on the back for getting the most +'s, like's, pins, and all the rest. But hear my message.
Addictions come in very different forms, and there is a high price to pay for not being able to turn off technology every now and again! Let me share a short story.
When my son was still a baby, he was enthralled by electrical outlets. Like any good mother would, I installed those little plastic plug protectors so he wouldn’t get electrocuted. But every now and then, I would catch him unplugging and replugging things around the house. As he grew into toddlerhood, he instinctively knew how to get my attention when I’d been watching TV for too long. He would come in the room and announce to me: "Just plug it out mom! I want to play outside"!
It's no wonder why he had such a fascination with electricity at a very young age. Everything that was plugged in was the enemy, stealing my attention away from him! Those were daunting words coming from a child with learning disabilities!
Listed below are the hard, cold facts. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, conducted a study that yielded the following sobering statistics.
Frightening, isn’t it?
Although texting is touted to be the new conversation, it’s not nearly the same as having a heart-felt conversation. Your phone doesn’t understand feelings or emotions. Emoticons certainly don’t tell all of the story either. They are a small representation of how we’re truly feeling inside. (hence why they're small!)
Even if it’s nerve-racking to set your phone or tablet down, it’s good for you. You can’t appreciate the world around you if you’re possessed by a device 24/7. We might all take some advice from my son and plug it out regularly. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
How to Plug it Out More Frequently
Create More Vantage Points
In the book Before Happiness, the author Shawn Achor suggests visiting a museum as one of the best ways to get a better visual perspective of the world around you. He calls them ‘vantage points’ for good reason. Turning off technology helps you define which details in life to focus on and which ones to ignore. Its like an errand of the mind if you will, and can help you sort out ill feelings, emotions, and all sorts of other stressors. It will also help you decide what’s important to you in life and what’s not.
Find True Value
If you can, commit to one tech-free day a week. Before there were cell phones, people engaged with the people who were right there! This is where you’ll find TRUE value.
There are a kabazillion different things you can do besides reaching for your phone. Try playing games, watching old movies, going for a walk, or just getting outside in the sunshine. Throw the ball with your dog, groom your kitties, clean out that closet you’ve been putting off or start journalizing using actual pen and paper. The options are endless. This is quality time everyone needs to connect with yourself and your loved ones.
Create a Barrier
Technology is convenient. It allows you to be in touch with others from anywhere! However, that doesn’t mean that every space in your life needs to be controlled by it. See if you can’t locate one specific area in your home that’s totally ‘tech-free’. Consider adding some books, cushions, a yoga mat, and/or soft lighting to enhance 'peace'.
Although social media is a great way to connect, it again diverts your attention away from loved ones who are in your presence. Furthermore, friends on social media sites can inadvertently upset you or stress you out even more. Add to that, the couple of people who never STOP leaving messages that you couldn’t care less about. How annoying!
Do yourself a favor. If social sites overburden you, then it’s time to check your reality and take inventory. If the experiences leave you irritated, mad, or frustrated, then you may need to reduce the amount of time you spend pursuing them.
It may be tempting to reach for your phone when you’re chatting it up with a friend, but you also need to be respectful to the person you’re with. It’s rude and most time, it turns out to be a big time-waster. Missing REAL moments in life will leave you far more disillusioned than missing a comment online.
No matter what approach you take, finding ways to minimize the amount of time you spend glued to technology will likely lead to improved relationships, more free time, and reduced stress.
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Until Next Time!
Stay Sweet and Be Beautiful!
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