Life seems to pass much quicker now than in the times of our parents and grandparents. I remember that when I was a girl in primary school, I had to wait at home for the stationery call of a boy I liked, and he never called. So I just spent a quiet afternoon with my grandmother. Today I would have clung to my mobile phone and scrutinized my social media trying to chat to him. I would have also been busy talking with many other people at the same time, so I wouldn’t have enough time to process the feeling of a 13-year old girl not getting to hear back from him.
The despair, the disappointment, the physicality of waiting for hours in vain for the phone to ring, which would never happen, because we’re bombarded with messages every instant. The true feelings in my heart would have been soaked in 20 different new exciting opportunities to buy something new, to go somewhere or to connect with somebody else. I probably would have endured less suffering not hearing from the boy. At the same time, I would miss many positive moments when I was truly happy for a simple reason: Because this feeling would have been to also soak in the other 20 messages I would receive that day. There is just not enough brain power to process all the technological junk we’re accustomed to surrounding ourselves with.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. Many times I see a family in a restaurant, all of them on their devices, and there is no connection between them. Or I see a mother with a little baby, glued to her smart phone and not aware of what her baby actually wants. Even my own husband, browsing through the Internet on his phone the first thing in the morning when he wakes up. He said that this helps him to wake up, but I said that he can hug me as well. He decided to try a hug. We are simply not conscious of how much time, space and human connection these mobile devices are robbing us of.
I have also at times been glued to my phone or addicted to anything that I could read, research or watch all day long. Then I realized that the moments are just passing us by and we won’t be able to recreate the beauty of an evening spent together, a meeting with a best friend, walking hand in hand with your baby or a romantic dinner.
I decided to ban electronic devices during certain moments of the day. Now we wake up and take a deep breath first. My older son, Thomas, who is 2.5 years old has for the last year not watched any baby movies and has not touched a phone and he is completely fine. He never asks for a movie or game. Instead he builds with blocks, plays with his trucks or chases the cats and he is never bored. My 1 year old daughter, Victoria, has never been used to baby movies and she is just active all day with anything, and rarely cries.
Our lives are slower now and more meaningful.
Here are some tips for how stop the phone and Internet addiction and live more meaningful lives:
- Create a specific time during your day when you switch off your Internet connection so that you cannot receive messages or actively use your mobile device. I suggest early morning before starting work, during your lunch break and evening. Also ban Internet access on Sundays.
- Discover what makes you feel good when you are offline and in the real world. Meet with friends, read a good book, go to the park, create a passion for life around you. Maybe practice sport or play a musical instrument or draw. Think about what people did in their spare time when technology wasn’t invented.
- Practice doing nothing. I have this habit that I feel strange when I do nothing and I’m always trying to be busy with something. This is a habit of our western culture to always be busy. So, do the opposite as to what that culture says. Just do nothing: look at the flowers or stars, play with your dog or cat, drink your tea, eat your food, observe how your children are playing without intervening, spend time with somebody and just be there in the moment. After a while, you’ll enjoy the space in your mind and the simple pleasures that every day brings. The taste of coffee, the smile of your child, the first moments of a sunrise.
You’ll see that when you slow down and disconnect from technology, you start discovering who you really are and what you really like. You will also be able to make decisions to focus on the things that are important to you.