Modern technology is a marvel. No longer do we rely on snail mail to hear from loved ones, by postcard to discover where somebody’s travels have taken them. Nor do we have to develop, print and post photographs to show how well we look or how much our children have grown.
The time it takes to communicate with someone in these ways—once days, weeks or even months—has been reduced to mere seconds. Through a snap of a camera or a click of a button, the media is there for us—and if we choose to, our social media world—to see.
There is no denying the brilliant advantages of our ultra-connected culture but in the interests of our health, happiness and wellbeing, it is important to strike a balance between being plugged into technology, and switching it off.
According to study commissioned by Nokia, the average Briton checks their mobile phone 150 times a day during a waking day of 16 hours. It is therefore no wonder that attention-related disorders are on the rise, and participation in sport and other physical activity is on the decline.
Studies show that constantly being connected to the Internet, including social media, can inhibit our ability to focus on one subject for a prolonged period of time. This lack of concentration can reduce our creativity and productivity, and instil in us a need for constant stimulation.
Perhaps the most evident effect of our technologically connected society is the disconnection from people and their surroundings that some experience. We opt to spend less time conversing and communicating with people face-to-face, and more time uploading, updating and upgrading our online selves.
Finding that balance between enjoying modern technology and avoiding its pitfalls is a challenge for us all.
One way to establish it could be to set time aside in order to switch off from technology; close down our laptops, switch off our mobile phones and be in the physical—rather than the virtual—moment. We shouldn’t have to rely on the validation of our online peers to feel good about ourselves.
Spending time outdoors with Mother Nature has been shown to make people happier, reduce stress, increase creativity, improve health and extend people’s life spans. As 19th century writer Lillian Russell said, “Let the clean air blow the cobwebs from your body. Air is medicine”.
Partaking in an outdoor recreational activity once in a while not only makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, but is a great way to establish inner harmony amid the hustle and bustle of urban living.
The convenience of having the Internet at our fingertips in our everyday lives is by no means a negative thing.
This expedient has allowed me to share incredibly special moments with people who live on the other side of the world, as well as enjoy great reads and documentaries with the person sitting next to me.
It is truly a wonder; but despite that wonder, I shall do my best to keep the real world in focus and not view it through the screen of my iPad. I shall do my best to look up and live in it.