I love technology. I’m a writer, blogger, and I run an online business. Technology has allowed me to live the life that I currently live. As long as I have a computer and an internet connection, I can live anywhere and work anywhere. I love the freedom that technology brings to my life. But it’s only in the last few months that I’ve seen just how big of a role this connection had in my needing a year of silence.
Before this silence began, I was completely connected to technology and completely frazzled. What started out as a love affair where we couldn’t get enough of each other became an unhealthy addiction where I felt miserable, unfulfilled, but didn’t know how to get out.
Like many, I was on the computer and online from the time I woke up until I dropped into bed at night. I crawled out of bed each morning and would start emailing people back in a still half-asleep state. (I wonder if they made any sense at all?) I had my email set to pop up on my computer any time a new message came in, and considering I received hundreds of emails a day, it was always alerting me. I had Facebook always open so that I would flip between the tabs to check every few minutes if there was a new message or notification. The phone’s ringer was always on, and so any time it rang, I would jump up to answer it.
There were very few boundaries, and I felt like I was becoming a slave to technology. Like I mentioned above, I loved how I had a business because of it. I loved connecting with others around the world because of it. But I felt like I was at the mercy of it – that I had no control over it. I was absolutely exhausted, but I didn’t know how to take myself out of what had come to feel like a force-field that continued to pull me in.
The more I talked about this with others, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. Friends shared that they slept with their phone beside their bed so they could check it in the middle of the night. They admitted to feeling naked or incomplete if they didn’t have it next to them at all times. I noticed that reality stars on TV carried several phones with them at a time so they would be able to chat while still checking email and social media. I would Skype with friends who would be talking to me while typing into their phone and watching TV at the same time.
Here are some recent statistics that demonstrate how truly connected we all are:
Arianna Huffington shared a startling statistic in her new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. She wrote that the average smartphone user checks their phone every 6.5 minutes, which is 221 times per day.
Radicati recently reported that the average number of emails sent and received each day was 121.
In his recent book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer shared how researchers found that it takes about 25 minutes to recover from a phone call. The average person receives a call every 11 minutes, which means we never full recover from all of the interruptions.
No wonder I was tired! Like many of us, I was so connected to technology and gadgets that I had lost a lot of my connection to myself. I never went outside because I didn’t feel like I had the time to. I never stopped working unless I absolutely had to because I was hungry or completely exhausted. I had completely lost sight of why I was doing any of this and why any of it mattered. I was in a technology coma and wasn’t sure how to come out of it.
That’s where the silence helped. By slowing down and getting still, I was able to pull back and gain some perspective on how I was living my life. I was able to see what needed to change in order to feel happy and more alive and connected to my own soul and to the universe.
And so, several months ago, I began taking (what I considered) drastic measures to reclaim my life and allow technology to work for me rather than the other way around. I started by turning the phone’s ringer off and checking messages just a couple times per day. I unsubscribed from almost every newsletter in order to completely clear out my inbox. I used to wake up and immediately feel overwhelmed by all of the email that I needed to read. Now, I know that the email that comes in is directly to me, and I am able to sift through it much more quickly. I close my email program and only open it when I am consciously going to respond to emails. I bought a program called Antisocial, which allows me to block certain sites for certain periods of time. This has really helped me not have Facebook open while I’m writing – I definitely get a lot more done this way! I now take at least two hours each day after lunch to step away from social media and email and allow myself “open time.” This means that I can do whatever my soul wants me to do: read, nap, write, space out, go outside… the possibilities are endless! I stopped working after dinner and committed to not checking social media sites or email at all after that. I committed to taking three days per week off completely from all email and social media, which gives me time to recharge.
These measures have already helped me immensely. I feel like I am getting my life back. I feel human again. I feel like myself again. And I feel like my relationship with technology has become more balanced and less chaotic and exhausting. While I’m still in the midst of implementing these changes and sticking with them, I can already say that I can see the benefit of staying the course and continuing to listen to my soul when it asks me to unplug. I just don’t think we’re meant to be this connected with all of our gadgets – it takes time away from us plugging into our soul. This time in silence is helping me sort of hit my life’s reset button (technology pun not intended), which feels really amazing and definitely worth staying conscious of and continuing in whatever ways feel right.
Hugs and love,
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