Disconnect to connect?

copyright davitydaveAs some you know tonight i’m giving a talk at Ignite Cardiff about turning off technology. This was inspired by my three weeks of technology disconnection over Christmas and New Years which was really enjoyable.

I’m not anti technology but I am part of a growing number of people who recognises that not all my habits to do with technology are healthy. My chief complaints with technology are as follows:

  1. I don’t really feel like quality of my relationships with people is improved via Facebook, twitter, text or email. Quantity or quality is a poor trade in. I hate that moment in social situations where everyone around you is staring at a screen epitomised so well in this video.
  2. I feel like i am training myself to be easily distracted and poorer at concentrating. Every bleep or flash or light or little box telling me I have an email pulls me off the task i was doing and into a whole different tangent. Joe Kraus calls this a crisis in attention in this amazing talk.
  3. It’s not good for my physical health – TV and computers are sedentary activities. We are all pretty much curving our spine through poor position during long hours on computer or looking down to our phones as we walk along. Not to mention the impact of blue light on how tired we feel and our ability to get quality sleep
  4. I’m too reliant on it. When my battery or phone conks out (which as my friends and exs will tell you frequently does for me) I’m stuffed. I have no access to my diary on my phone, I’m used to using the map to navigate myself and i don’t remember anyones numbers to call them.

Basically I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how i use technology and how i can loosen the grip of technology over my life. So i’m more mindful of when, why and how i use it. Jeremy Shure argues the case for this as well… he describes the all common situation of starting and closing your day with technology – and his attempt to break that cycle. I am also now dabbling with a day off from technology each week and actually leaving my phone off or even better at home somedays.

My time off from technology gives me space in my life to connect in better ways with those around me, space to look up at the vista, and space to do more things that are important to me – reading those books that have been sat by my bed forever or playing guitar more. It teaches me to just be more, without need to constantly stimulate and distract myself. It also teaches others that I’m not available 24/7 a dangerous habit i picked up in my old life working in communications.

My challenge this year is a weekly digital sabbath and more mindful technology usage. Maybe for other people once a month or once in a while works better. Maybe it’s a challenge that you want to take on too – if so let me know how you get on.

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