Do you hit the floor running as soon as you get out of bed in the morning?
Are you ‘multi tasking by the time you hit the shower, checking e mails on your phone, catching up on the early morning news on the TV, prepping for that meeting, consulting your I-pad whilst you eat your breakfast?
Is this the pattern for your whole day? Many people are still on their laptops up to the moment they close their eyes and expect to get a good night’s sleep.
Our phones are constantly ringing, texts buzzing and e mails binging. Every alert sets off a small ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Our orientation response is constantly firing and, even when the phone is silent, we are busy checking Face Book, Twitter, Google.
It may come as no surprise that social media can be addictive, possibly more so than cigarettes or alcohol. Modern technology is a wonderful thing. However, like fire, it’s a good servant….. but a bad master. As with most addictions, you think you are controlling it until you finally realise, it now controls you.
Your ‘plugged in’ life style may be giving you a sense of mastery over your environment, but have you stopped to consider if it’s actually making you happier? There’s plenty of evidence that people today are more depressed than previous generations who lived life at a much quieter pace. There is mounting evidence too that we should all try to reclaim our lives and begin to actively curb media addiction.
Anxiety U.K. has recently released a study suggesting that social media and internet usage actually increases our background stress. Over sixty percent of study respondents said they ‘felt the need to switch off’ their phones and computers just to get a true break from technology.
Busy doing nothing
It was the philosopher Blaise Pascal who famously said ‘All our miseries stem from not being able to sit quietly alone in a room.’ While we all struggle to fill the silence and fit more in, it seems we are confusing quantity with quality and many have lost the simple art of doing nothing.
When my children were young, there was a little ‘feel good’ song I used to sing them and which I now sing to my 20 month old grand daughter. Those of a certain age will remember Bing Crosby’s jubilant version:
We’re busy doin’ nothin’
Workin’ the whole day through
Tryin’ to find lots of things not to do
We’re busy goin’ nowhere
Isn’t it just a crime?
We’d like to be unhappy, but…
We never do have the time
The song is a carefree and meandering observation of an age old philosophy which seems to have a growing significance in our multi media, social networking, society.
A recent tongue in cheek guide to social media shows just how ‘on line’ most of us are.
Own up, is this you?
Twitter: I am eating a cake
Facebook: I like eating a cake
You Tube: This is how I eat my cake
LinkedIn: My skills include eating a cake
Instagram: Here’s a classic pic of the cake I eat
Blog: Here’s my cake eating experience
Pinterest: Here’s my recipe for the cake
Four square: This is where I am eating the cake
10 Top tips to curb media addiction
So, if you’re serious about wanting to claim more of your real life back from technology, try these tips:
1. Make a plan. Decide exactly how you’re going to put a fence around time spent on line.
2. Share with your significant others. Let them know you will not be accessible 24/7.
3. Set a personal time when access to social media will be switched off.
4. Confine answering e mails to one or two slots a day so you are not always ‘checking.’
5. Switch off noisy phone, e mail and text alerts.
6. Set timers to go off after a media time limit has been reached.
7. Install monitoring software on computers for pre-set time outs.
8. Use a note book to track your screen usage.
9. Move TVs and computers out of bedrooms. Sit in the same room as your family or flat mates in the evening rather than isolate yourself.
10. Ensure you have at least one hour wind down time before bed.
Don’t feel guilty
Finally, don’t feel guilty about having screen-free time and not responding immediately to messages and e mails.
Having more face-to-face time and less-face to screen time will allow you to improve the quality of your real life. By following the top ten tips, you are likely to recover around two hours of actual living.
Decide what to do with your new leisure time and remember that leisure is not simply absence of work. Life needs balance. Like a good recipe, it’s best when you have the right ingredients in the right proportion, put together with care and patience.
And consider this insight from C.S Lewis:
‘It is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail.’