A Moment of Clarity and Change
I recently realized my soap box lectures on how bad tech is for us and our children doesn't change behaviors. We often realize we aren't making the best choice when we spend more time than we should checking social media, sports scores, and news outlets, but we continue to do it.
But what is the price we pay for this behavior, and what are we exchanging for our time on digital devices? Countless articles discuss the impact of Instagram on the self-worth of young women and men. Many have highlighted concerns related to misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the spread of false narratives on platforms like Facebook. Platforms like TikTok have been criticized for fragmenting our focus, and it's widely recognized how inappropriate content on smartphones can be detrimental. Not to mention recently released statements from our own government on the harmful effects of social media.
All these issues should prompt us to tread carefully when considering the relationship between technology and our personal growth. Yet, it's worth pondering if we might be overlooking more profound underlying issues — something deeper about who we are, who we can become, and the important role we play in the world.
In "Restless Devices," Felicia Wu Song delves into the often unnoticed and unintended effects our gadgets have on us. Her work seamlessly blends insights from psychology, neurobiology, theology, and sociology, making it a compelling read. A particular passage resonated with me, emphasizing what we may be losing in this digital age.
When our minds are preoccupied with something "productive," the areas of the brain that specialize in our capacities to process autobiographical memory, craft a coherent sense of self, and imagine how others are feeling are all muted…. The more we demand our brains to attend to being productive, the less our brains are able to grow us as persons in key areas of identity construction and empathy.
Constant digital interruptions and the need to always be "connected" diminish essential aspects of our humanity. They dampen and silence the functions that allow us to transcend the shallowness of life. A relentless stream of distractions prevents us from:
• Understanding our personal journey and story • Form and develop our identity • Developing genuine understanding and care for others. (Empathy)
This digital clamor deprives us of elements crucial in today's society: the ability to be confident, secure, and caring individuals.
Many individuals feel directionless, lacking a clear purpose or narrative in life. Numerous individuals grapple with insecurities, uncertain about their true selves or their destinies. A significant number lack genuine compassion, limited by their narrow interests.
This sense of being adrift, insecure, and self-centered epitomizes the adverse effects our devices have on us. They are fracturing us in ways we can barely comprehend.
Instead of looking at your phone, take a look at your life. Are you going in the right direction? Are you developing into the person you want to be? Are you fulfilling your potential and enjoying your life? These are big questions, no wonder we run, hide and distract ourselves. Yet those questions have to be answered during your lifetime.
When we look at our phone, we are playing a minor part in another's story, instead of being the main character (hero) of our own story.
Has my marriage and relationship become stronger? Am I a better father or mother? Am I listening to my inner voice on what I should be doing and creating?
Your story and identity only emerges through paying attention and creating moments of peace (can I call it boredom?). The distraction from your devices is impacting much more of who you are as a person than just using up your time.
How do you do this?
Refuse to look at your phone until you have meditated, taken some deep breaths, read your scriptures or written in your journal. Refuse to look at your phone until you have spent time with yourself.
Create time periods of focus where you shut off your phone and all alerts. Put your phone away at dinner or while at home so it doesn't seem your phone is more important than your spouse or children.
It is time to reclaim your humanity and learn how to become a wise and caring individual in a very shallow and distracted world.
"The most dangerous distractions are the ones you love, but that don’t love you back." -Warren Buffet
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