Thursday, January 30, 2014

Digital detox

Technology is great; it is, don't get me wrong. Most all of us reply on it everyday in SO many ways. Banking? Can you imagine life with no online banking? Or music? Can you imagine not having the ability to download something right now? Or not having an app like Soundhound to tell you what that awesome song was and by whom it was sung so that you can go and download it right now? Or not having the ability to text someone via your smart phone? What, you mean, wait for them to return your email? That is simply archaic! I want their response right now!

Funny thing is, it was not that very long ago that our phones weren't smart,  Facebook updates weren't popping up on the additional browser we leave open at work for just that purpose, and teenage girls weren't spending entire afternoons preparing for and then taking endless selfies.

When I think back, I've owned my iphone for less than 5 years. Admittedly, I was semi-late to the smart phone party. But let's say I was an early adapter and owned that Blackberry a few years prior. It's all still so recent! But moving faster than the High Speed Internet Starter, Essential, Preferred, Premier, Ultimate plan provided by your local cable carrier. (Actual names of Cox Cable's current Internet packages.)

Snapchat, Vine, Kik, WhatsApp, Pheed, I can't keep up with the ever growing-number of apps and websites that my tween already does, or will probably soon, use.

I'll admit it, this aspect of technology terrifies me. Not so much what she will post, or even the possibility that she will view inappropriate posts and photos, but the fact that sites like Creepy and GirlsAroundMe offer geolocation information through other social networking platforms.  If I allow my mind to go spend any time on this angle it doesn't take long for it to conjure up a very clear picture of both a pit bull and a fancy pants security system in my home.

But scary or not, it's all here to stay, and I am addicted as much as the next guy. I do have to say, though, that it's a love/hate relationship sometimes.

For me, there is a correlation between social media and FOMO. The fear of missing out phenomenon is real, and growing. We didn't used to know exactly what our people were up to at any point in time, unless we specifically inquired beforehand. Or, alternatively, we'd find out only later, when we met for dinner one night, let's say, or maybe via an uncharacteristically long chatty email. But today? Well we know where lots of people are, seemingly all the time -- there are photos full of fun and frivolity to prove it too!

Wait, where are they? That looks like so much fun! Why am I sitting here alone writing a blog post? Am I a loser with a capital L?

I also find myself bawling half the time I click on the shared links that show up on my FaceBook news feed. I mean, it's really good stuff, an amazing array of human expression at the click of my mouse. But all that beauty and creativity and emotion? It makes me weep. Ach, the humanity! And it sure as hell makes it hard to go back to editing some piece about 2-Hydroxyglutaric aciduria.

Which leads me to my next point, social media also distracts me from my job, which is, of course, the point.... But it can be a problem. My mind feels scattered the more I switch back and forth (duh), and at some points I honestly question whether I am developing some late-onset adult ADD.

There is no going back. That's a given. Social media and smart phones are here to stay, and do not try to get me to stop using either. But I am to the point where I need a bit of a digital detox. If not a true time out, then I think I may need to put some rules into place so that I don't get too sucked up by screen time.  My profession already has me staring at a computer monitor for 7 hours a day, which too much to begin with.

So I'm going to start slow on my digital diet and see how it goes. Something like no checking social media sites until my lunch break (which is not a break from electronic devices at all, just me eating in front of an electronic device), and maybe turning off all devices 2 hours before bedtime.

Actually, who am I kidding? Is that really going to help? I think I may instead have to resort to some of Megan Mulally's ideas below, which I found here (using that newfangled Google search technology).

15 Ways to Digitally Detox
Overwhelmed by the unrelenting reach of your digital devices?
Megan Mullally, actress/writer/singer/life guru, advises how to step away from it all.
1. Throw your phone in the toilet. Put the toilet in the trash. Leave the house. Burn the house down.
2. Buy the new Digital D-Tox app off iTunes or Google Play. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s a terrible idea.
3. Stop sexting and start actually having sex. It may seem weird at first, but it should all come back to you.
4. Feed your hands to a wild animal.
5. Tell a close friend to spray mace in your face every time you check your phone. Eventually, you will associate the pain with technology. Or with your friend. So let’s give this one a 50-50 chance of success.
6. Become Amish.
7. Build a time machine. Go back to the Ice Age. Become part of a Neanderthal family. Settle down. Destroy time machine.
8. Buy 1,000 Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. Never stop eating them.
9. Punch a cop in the face. Go to jail. Good luck getting on the Internet now, idiot!
10. Glue your iPad to your butt. Or, better yet, to a stranger’s butt
Make a rule that before you do anything technological, you have to explain how Twitter and Foursquare work to your parents. Yeah. That should do it.
Try to remember that before there was an Internet filled with adorable kitten pictures and videos, there was an actual world filled with adorable kittens.
13. Go to sleep. Don’t wake up until after the Rapture.
Start a zombie apocalypse.
Destroy all technology. Because if Mama can’t check her e-mail, ain’t nobody can check their e-mail. 


Pat said...

It is crazy today. I went to work with no computers, no xerox, no fax only land lines and snail mail. Somehow we stumbled through.
The corner tavern was how you kept up with folks.
Good luck with your plan only leave your phone on in case I break a leg or some such.
Love, Mom

Tuned in In Central PA said...

I'm tired of the rolled eyes I get when warning my teenagers about some of these apps which look like they serve no real purpose other than to expose a child to thousands of people that they have no business "knowing".
But I will say that so much instant information does end up being useful when catching those same teenagers in the tangled webs they weave...I think our parents had to work a little harder.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I love Megan Mullally. I want her to be my life guru.

It's all true, and vexing. I'm addicted yet filled with shame. Does that count for anything?


Beth said...

Ha ha, I love her too. I can't decide if I'd rather be Amish or a Neanderthal, lol. Ir just go all Nancy Botwin and choose #1.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Me too, Jacquie! I *love* her. And yes, if you're filled with shame, that's half the battle.

Just please, don't let Beth talk *you* into being the close friend who sprays mace in her face every time she checks her phone. Because then Beth with associate "pain" with *you*. And that would be bad. Shamefully bad.

What I'm excited for, is to see what comes next. Can you imagine? It's going to be cool.

Good luck, Beth! Hey, you can always borrow your girls' phones if you need to. Well, that or go back to the Ice Age in a time machine.


Beth said...

My girl's phone is way newer and nicer than mine, sadly. Now *that*, my friends, is shameful.

Maybe I just need a new phone.............

Donna B. said...

Funny stuff Beth! (text ya later ha ha)