This week we read and learned about being mindful on the Internet. My first thought went to the mindLESS things we do with technology. Social media, smartphones, games, so many distractions at the touch of our fingers. I would say I am mindful some of the time with technology. I mostly use my laptop for school purposes as all my other distractions are on my smartphone. So, when I have my laptop out, one can tell that I am being productive, or at least trying to be. More often than not, I will pull my phone out while doing homework and check social media. Sometimes, it’s as a distraction when I don’t feel motivated to do homework, and other times it is just boredom. In an article I read, What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect From Tech For Three Days, a student talks about how it usually takes him about 5 hours to complete his homework. Without the distraction of his phone, he said it would only take him about an hour and a half. Incredible right? We would rather have our phones to distract us through 5 hours of homework than putting it away for an hour and a half. I sometimes find myself in the same situation. However, when I feel motivated and focused on my work, I have no problem putting my phone down for a bit.
We all need to be more attentive when using technology. We need to learn how much is too much. I’ve seen ads, on social media ironically, about this “DistractaGone” box that acts as a safe to put your phone in. You set a timer on the box to when it will open, and it will not open until the timer has gone back to zero. I thought it would be a great idea when you need to get stuff done, but then thought it to be sad. I found it kind of sad because we need to go to such measures just to stay focused on a certain thing. We are so dependent on technology that it literally has to be locked away for us to properly pay attention to other things.
In another article I read, Bored…And Brilliant?, there was this app used called Moment. When I read about this, I searched for it on my iPhone. I could not find it right away and ended up finding another app called “Checky.” As I looked through it I realized that it only tracked each time I would unlock my phone and not how much time was actually spent on it. I tried capitalizing Moment to see if I could fine the correct app. It worked. The app would tell me how much time I would spend on my phone each day, and specifically which apps I spent most of my time on. I quickly became depressed at how much time I actually spent on my phone without realizing. This really showed me how much time is wasted on my phone and makes me think that I should cut back.
The world of technology is always moving, getting faster every day. It is hard to keep up and it is time consuming. Just as we learned to multitask, we need to get ourselves back to focusing on one thing at a time. While multitasking can be a time saver, when we multitask we don’t always put in our best work, especially to something that needs our very best work. I had gotten a lot out of the article, Simplify the Internet. Written by Leo Babauta, it gives helpful advice on how we can cut back on the complications of the Internet. Advice such as: choosing one social network to follow, tools to help with reading news articles and stories, and how to manage our email more quickly and effectively. When we have an important project or assignment we need to limit our distractions and focus on the one project or assignment to produce our best work.
When I first saw the title of the TED talk by Paul Miller I thought, “there is no way.” Paul Miller had gone an entire year without the Internet, not even texting. That is impossible! For us it seems anyways. I expected him to talk about how more fulfilling his life became and how he would do it again. I was actually kind of surprised at what he found. It was refreshing at first, as is any new thing we might try, and then he became lonely and bored. Which is bound to have happened at some point because we live in a world that at even a hint of boredom we take our phone out and have a world of entertainment in our hands. What really surprised me is what happened after he came back into the world of technology. He of course felt overwhelmed at first, and then became so engulfed in the tech world once again. I agree with what he had to say in the end, there needs to be a balance between technology and the real world.
We become truly present in the world when we do not rely on technology to be with one another. My friends and I, back in high school, would go out for ice cream, sit around a table, and stack all of our phones in the center of the table. They would be visible to us, but we could not touch them. We made a rule that whoever picked his or her phone up first had to pay for ice cream for everyone. This was a challenge, but the longer we hung out, we wouldn’t even notice our phones anymore, unless one of them went off. We became present with one another, which made being together so much more enjoyable.
When we rely on technology, we lose ourselves. Remember digital citizenship? Who we are online, may not be who we are in reality. And if we let ourselves be defined by technology, then we lose a sense of who we really are.