It’s an understatement to say that we live in an extremely technological world. This is especially true considering how many aspects of daily life have shifted to digital modalities with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 – something we are still dealing with more than two years later. As a result, the separation between work life and home life, for example, is almost nonexistent. Employees and other people working remotely, along with students completing their education online, are always “plugged in” so to speak; there is no break or time to rest.
I’ve written about our relationship with technology in such a digital age before — it’s not a new issue. However, it is still an incredibly significant one. Technology has given us amazing opportunities and has increased our connectivity and communication with others tenfold. Nowadays it is so much easier to stay in touch with people at any distance, which is a great thing!
However, as with many aspects of life, too much of a good thing is really not good for you at all. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of 24/7 connectivity, especially as the semester is winding down and every class, job and extracurricular activity is attempting to wrap up 16 weeks of goals at the same time. Numerous texts about pressing responsibilities and deadlines are tugging at my pant leg like a group of small children and ignoring their cries just makes them more persistent.
However, this newfound expectation to always be available to others, simply because they have a way to contact you anywhere, anytime, is ridiculous. It’s okay to unplug sometimes. You are not obligated to answer every text or email within 30 seconds; you can take a break and get to it when you have the time, energy and mental space for it.
There are a number of benefits to taking a step back from technology. For one, it is a stress reducer, in that it gives you time to recover from the work day. It is just as draining for your physical, mental and emotional health to always be “on” as it is for your phone battery if you never take a second to turn it off and recharge. Furthermore, stepping back also improves your physical health, as it gives you time to stretch your body, and gives your eyes a break from staring at various screens. Unplugging yourself from your technology can also allow you to be more present in the moment you are currently in, rather than distracting you with the millions of other tasks begging for your attention at any given second.
I know that unplugging isn’t an easy task, and it certainly isn’t as simple as it seems. Personally, it can manifest in my life with feelings of guilt for not being available to others – and I would assume at least one person reading this might feel the same way. However, it’s not fair to yourself as an individual to give these feelings of guilt any credence. You are a human being, after all, and not an infallible one at that. No one is. Honestly, I say these things mostly for myself, because they’re things I need reminders in, but hopefully they’re helpful to others as well.
And because it isn’t easy to unplug, you have to give yourself forgiveness and leeway if you aren’t perfect at it. Technology is addictive. You have to be realistic with yourself that there might be times where it is impossible to completely disconnect. But there are typically always methods of mitigating the overwhelming pressure of remaining connected all the time. Do Not Disturb is a wonderful feature that will silence notifications for as long as you want – trust me when I say this is a lifesaver. Out of sight, out of mind.
Any little step you can take to unplug is a good start. It’s no secret to say that phones, technology and constant communication overall can be a source of stress — hence the fact that it’s okay to take a break from these things. Remember: You don’t always have to be available to others just because you have a cell phone and someone else has your number.