Turn Off, Tune Out, And Drop Back In

The more society is tied to technology, the more society seems either unwilling or unable to communicate.  If you step away from technology for a moment and observe those around you, it’s amazing how few social interactions seem to be happening despite the fact that most of society believes meaningful communication is going on.

How Connected Are We?

Government statistics for the U.S. indicate that 90% of all Americans (children and adults) have a cellphone.  If Americans aged 45 and older are removed, that number jumps to 97% of Americans 44 years of age and under who have a cellphone.

How Connected Are Minors?

Those between the ages of eight and eighteen spend a large segment of the day connected to technology fromTumblr and  Snapchat to the latest social media platform preferred by the age group.  In fact, according to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, they spend nearly eight hours a day tied to technology.

That’s more time than they spend at school, and more time than they spend engaged in extracurricular activities.  It’s more time than they invest in their immediate and extended family relationships.

Are We Addicted To Technology

The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists Internet Gaming Disorder as a mental illness.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine recognizes Internet Addiction Disorder (also known as Problematic Internet Use, Internet Dependence, or Pathological Internet Use) as a real health condition.

Medically speaking, when doctors and medical researchers use the term disorder, they mean a physical or mental condition that isn’t normal or healthy.  Not being a licensed or accredited medical practitioner, I’m in no position to say more on the subject than what I’ve stated.  These conditions, according to doctors and medical researchers, exist and are very real problems for a segment of society.

What Does This Have To Do With Business

Many people in their personal and professional lives are struggling with information overload as a result of their intense interactivity with technology.  Connected to social media platforms and online sources with up-to-the-minute information (some of it accurate, some of it less so) via multiple devices from cellphones to tablets and more, the importance of meaningful communication is suffering.  When a person suffers from information overload, the tendency is to manage the overload either by shutting down completely (which isn’t the best option in business) or to avoid that which makes the person uncomfortable (which also isn’t the best option in business).

Manage Technology Effectively

Technology isn’t the enemy.  How technology is managed is makes the difference between efficiency and overload.  Pare down your social media presence to a level that’s easily managed.

Have set hours when you use mobile devices.  Turn them off and walk away from them for a few hours a day.  Trust me when I say that the world won’t come to an end for the short while you’re disconnected from virtual reality.

Set limits on how much time you’re willing to invest in virtual reality, and increase the amount of time you spend interacting on a face-to-face basis.

Does Face-To-Face Interaction Really Matter?

As a matter of fact, it is.  Believe it or not, studies have proven that face-to-face interactions lead to decreased violence, and builds trust between individuals.   It creates stronger team dynamics and creates positive learning engagement.  All of these are sharply decreased when personal interactions are ignored in favor of technological connections via virtual reality.

Final Note

The art of conversation is a lost art among many these days.  Conversation is more than just the exchange of words.  Conversation is the exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, ideas, and more, and the spoken word is how those sentiments, observations, opinions, ideas, and more are shared, not merely transmitted.  Conversations are colored with tone and intonation, pitches and passion, motion and emotion.  All of these can be easily misunderstood or misread or quite simply missed when reading texts and memes on the Internet.

Back in the 1960s, Timothy Leary encouraged people to turn on, tune in, and drop out.  In the 2010s, it’s time to turn off, tune out, and drop back in.  You’ll be amazed at how much balance your life will have once you do this.

Elyse Bruce

SUGGESTED READING

COMPUTER AND INTERNET USE IN THE UNITED STATES
http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p20-569.pdf

HOW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
http://www.business2community.com/tech-gadgets/how-technology-affects-human-relationships-01326003#IG3CHDzwLwmYKl8d.97

INTERNET ADDICTION: A BRIEF SUMMARY OF RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/

INTERNET GAMING DISORDER FACT SHEET
http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/Internet%20Gaming%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

IS AMERICA AT A DIGITAL TURNING POINT?
http://worldinternetproject.com/_files/_Published/_oldis/622_10_year_report_final_release.pdf

IS FACEBOOK MAKING US LONELY?
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/

MORE THAN 90% OF ADULT AMERICANS HAVE CELL PHONES
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/06/more-than-90-of-adult-americans-have-cell-phones/276615/

TECHNOLOGY’S IMPACT ON SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
https://www.calsouthern.edu/content/articles/psychology-articles/technology-impact-on-social-relationships-surprising-data

WHY WE ARE WIRED TO CONNECT
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-are-wired-to-connect/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: