Look around you right now. Most likely everyone is on their phone.
Can you remember the last time you went a whole day without without using your phone, iPad, laptop, television or some other precious gismo gadget?
Most likely, the answer is you can’t remember a time.
Even on holiday we still have our phones to hand for photos or emails.
Perhaps the thought of even going a day without technology sends you into a frazzle of panic!
Nourish your mind like you would your body. The mind cannot survive on junk food.
Now technology has made so many huge advancements shaping the way we live, communicate and connect with one another. They have bought the world together in unimaginable ways. And so many of these inventions are fantastic. I can chat with my friend in Miami in a matter of seconds. I can watch my cousin grow up in Australia through instant photo updates. I can navigate around London to meet my friends for dinner without getting lost at every third corner.
But are we sacrificing so much more. Are we loosing connection with the present moment to live inside a screen? Are we blind to the fact that it’s making us feel like crap?
So below are my top reasons on how too much technology can psychologically impact our well being and mental health.
- The lack of non-verbal communication…
Over 70% of communication is done via non-verbal means. Facial expressions, body language even the tone, speed and punctuation of the voice affect the meaning. So this causes a huge problem when it comes to texting. My mum ends every message with a full stop which I read every time with horror trying to recall why she would be angry or upset with me. But isn’t that just the correct way to end a sentence? A quick snarky way to let someone know you are annoyed is by omitting the much loved ‘X’. My dad signs of every message LOL – is he laughing out loud every time of sending lots of love? You get the picture. It’s impossible to interpret meaning just from words, jumbled letters and haphazard punctuation.
- The awkward moment when your sarcastic joke comes off as rude…
This is something I am a huge culprit of. And it’s not just with sarcasm, but with any message. I tend to send short messages with half sentences or a few words which come across as blunt or as if I’m annoyed. I tried adding relevant emojis to help get my meaning across but these were received with even more confusion. How many arguments must have come from sending a joke which was taken to heart?
- The pressure that comes with having to respond immediately to every message which has a Read Receipt to avoid appearing ‘off’ or cold…
And now luckily for us, this isn’t only on the iPhone, but Facebook, Snapchat and countless other applications too! You get a message and you know that person knows you’ve read it and you’re now left with the dilemma of waiting till you have time to respond at the cost of them feeling you’re ignoring them, or responding hurriedly now so that you feel content that they won’t be worrying. It’s a psychological nightmare! Even just writing it! What’s more is the way that some people can use the read receipt as a means of asserting power in a relationship – keeping someone in suspense with your response, highlighting your annoyance at someone or even just emphasising your dominance.
- Waiting for an answer to a read message that just never comes…
I should imagine that everyone can relate to this one. Whether it’s the frustration that your friend hasn’t replied about the location for drinks this evening and you are already on route. Or the torment of wondering whether that boy of girl you were texting has lost interest in you. Sending a text message gives the receiver all the power and puts you in a vulnerable position. Anxiety levels increase unconsciously culminating in self doubt and a series of irrelevant declarations. ‘I am not good enough’, ‘They don’t really like me’, ‘God, I wish I wasn’t so boring’. This peaks with a sense of abandonment or embarrassment until the reply comes – or doesn’t come which then comes with its own whole heap of further negative implications we just don’t need!
- Too much of something is a bad thing…
Picture sitting in your office or wherever you work right now. Most likely you have your computer in front of you, perhaps two. On the screens there are likely to be plenty of tabs open, either for work, research or browsing purposes. Beside you, I imagine, is your phone. Maybe two. These flash irregularly with updates, new Snapchats and messages. Now that is a lot of information to be flicking through and taking in on a daily basis. Give your mind a rest and try putting your phone away for a few hours and sticking to minimal pages and applications.
- Poor sleep habits…
Long after we’ve turned the light off to go to sleep, a blue light is still glaring in most bedrooms. Flicking through photos, texting your crush or catching up on the sports highlights. When it is dark the body produces the hormone melatonin which helps to regulate bodily functions, prevent cellular damage and promotes rejuvenation qualities. Phones, tablets and laptops emit a bright light which hinders the regulation of melatonin. Try switching off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed and see if you notice an improvement in your sleep patterns and energy levels after a few days.
- Not present to each and every moment…
I bet there are times where you can’t remember your journey to work because you spent the entire time on Facebook and ended up on the account of a person you don’t even know. Do you brush your teeth whilst watching random videos online? Or worse yet, are there priceless moments that you missed because you were texting? As technology becomes more and more a part of our society, we are becoming further and further removed from the present moment. Next time you have time to spare, try reading a book, noticing your surroundings or trying a new hobby. You’ll find that you learn to appreciate and find beauty in the little things.
- Living in a fantasy (or nightmare)…
What irks me most about the technologically advanced world we live in today is the division between fantasy and reality. You only have to open your Instagram account to see any number of your friends on a beach, others with their boyfriends on a romantic getaway and another having work drinks on a Wednesday afternoon. And naturally you feel pangs of jealousy. But what you don’t take in is that some of these photos are old memories or the fact that you went away a few weeks ago! And sometimes it feels like you can’t keep up with the fun and excitement of others, but ask yourself how true the photos really are.
- Never on your own – time alone is important for your wellbeing…
Conversations, social media and technological distractions are endless, which means we very rarely have anytime just to ourselves. In real life there is a clear cut end to a conversation, whereas there is no end when the conversation is digital. A response could come at anytime of day and night which means we are constantly checking to see whether someone has responded. Any moment which could lend itself to boredom is cured by inane Instagram scrolling, Facebook stalking and video watching. We don't allow ourselves vital time to just sit and be, to develop as a person outside of social media’s rules and restraints.
So much of technology is so good and I’m not saying that it is inherently bad! And I’m as bad as the next person. But I am suggesting that there is a time and place for it. Don’t fall guilty to missing that beautiful sunset or a special moment because you’re glued to your phone. Try nourishing your mind like you do your body and see if you notice feeling more alive, find more enjoyment in activities and feel more connected to your loved ones. Find time in your day to put away technology and connect to the moment and the people.
Please tell me what changes you notice when you unplug - I love hearing your feedback!
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