Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tune Out, Turn Off - Live.

Technology is GREAT, but...

With the rapidly changing technology we're all scrambling to understand, use, and implement, we have made vast leaps and bounds over the years. Remember 20 years ago when people had actual car phones, almost anyone that had a cell phone had one of those ugly Motorola's, and payphones (apparently not even a recognized word any more) were on just about every corner (let's not even get started on beepers!)???

How about the awful racket of your modem as you were signing in to AOL, and the only websites were god awful and took a ton of time to load, or the fact that you ACTUALLY had to go to a library to do research?

Too far back? How about 10 years ago, when smartphones became more affordable, more popular, and were readily available to regular consumers, or 5 years ago when mini tablets became popular and smartphones started getting bigger again after years of companies trying to downsize them?

Point being, over the years, we have all made massive adjustments to our lives to keep up with technology. In doing so we immerse ourselves and our lives in the latest gadgets, trends, great news, terrible news, satire (which far too often is taken as gospel), humor (which typically offends at least some portion of the population), time-wasting apps and games, and a wealth of information (and misinformation) so readily accessible that oft times we forget what we learned the day before.

Not to downplay the benefits of tech advancements...

But all of these changes are great - our behaviors are not. As illustrated by Jean Jullian (courtesy of CreativeFinder), and Simon Sinek (take 13 minutes to watch this video... and really let it sink in), our interactions with people are poisoned by this same technology. Our primary mode of communication these days is text or email, with many of us no longer making phone calls or visiting our reps. While we all say we NEED those devices to keep in touch with family or friends... we are gradually forgetting that each and every one of us had a much easier, less stressful life before the "tech takeover."

How does one overcome this daily doldrum, what the APA calls "fear of missing out" (originally a study based on graduate students feeling sub-par, but later related to technology by a handful of articles and blogs), and the fact that we all feel like we are always working, or always aiming to impress?

Some solution(s):

There is no right or wrong answer, but when looking at how we act with technology, with the behaviors we have established, there are some very simple steps that can definitely increase your quality of life as well as your real-life connections with friends, family, and colleagues. By no means are these suggestions exhaustive, and by no means are they scientifically founded or official... just practices I have taken to:

• Turn your device off and leave it alone for 15 minute periods throughout the day... especially times like lunch, dinner, meetings, or social gatherings. The amount of fun you have, your quality time will be astounding.

• Stay off your device when you're in bed. Obviously many of us use our devices as alarms, but there is absolutely no need to stay on your device for the last 30 minutes or hour before you go to sleep (sorry internet/mobile daters and social media junkies... I promise the same people will be there tomorrow).

• When you are with family, or at home (and you're not waiting on last minute client approval for a vendor), set your phone aside. That constant need to be on top of everything has only come about since the popularity of devices has increased. Changes are that years ago, the "drop-dead" deadlines of client, corporation and vendor were all at least one to two days prior to publication or production date, if not longer. We have forced ourselves into a corner by making ourselves available to everyone 24/7. Granted, there are on-call and emergency situations that require immediate attention... obviously you can't set your phone aside in those instances.

• Most importantly, on those rare occasions where you are having a real face-to-face conversation with someone put your phone away. Don't hold it in your hand, don't wave it about. Just experience that interaction without distraction. The value you will find in that interaction is without a question more emotionally invoking and thought provoking then the value you will get from thumbing up a post, swiping right or left, re-tweeting someone else's 160 characters, or any of the myriad other things we take as "necessities" in our daily lives.

I am a Digital Marketer, and I know how hard all of this is... if you take nothing else from this post, watch the Simon Sinek video and soak it in. His words are far more valuable than mine, and should help you set aside your digital persona for at least a few minutes a day.