Is It Time To Take A Break From Technology?

Technology with its 24/7 access to the internet allows us to be more productive inside and outside the workplace. But is that a good thing?

The first wave

The first wave of enthusiasm for always-on connectivity triggered by the internet and social media is coming to an end. Not least because it creates an expectation that we are always accessible. Such availability applies to colleagues in work and family and friends at home. Connectivity also creates the possibility of working from anywhere at any time and so there is little space between work time and down time, between switch-on and switch-off.

Technology is celebrated as a way to be more efficient but it overlooks the fact that its associated activities are designed by well-resourced companies with the intention of capturing our attention to turn us into helpless addicts. As a result, the promise of greater productivity is lost to mindless scrolling on endless pages for useless information. Beyond the role of technology as a significant waster of time lie issues of isolation for those who succumb to its more dangerous aspects.

The next wave

To address the temptations of technology people of all ages are increasingly considering the idea of spending one day a week freed from all forms of connectivity; the bravest even turn off their smartphone. Such action is reported to have a positive effect on our physical and mental well-being, as it creates space in our day for traditional pursuits. These include old-fashioned activities like venturing outside to walk, exploring the countryside, enjoying uninterrupted conversations and engaging in an array of new habits and hobbies. Choosing to disconnect for a period of time provides a broader perspective on how to manage technology in a way that enriches our lives and stops its slide into controlling every waking moment.

Once unhooked from technology on a regular basis we can find the time to revisit the old fashioned idea of slowing down for long enough to be still enough to do nothing. This approach shifts the focus from that of pursuing an activity for a particular reward to pursuing an activity for its own sake such as spending time with family and friends. As a result, we connect with others and enjoy being present in the moment and engaged in our immediate surroundings. It also addresses the negative effects of technology by enabling greater links to the communities in which we live. Ironically, in a world travelling at ever-faster speeds there are advantages to doing less and taking time to catch our breath. Learning about new technology is always exciting but it is equally satisfying to be as excited about doing nothing on occasions.

So, technology helps us to lead a more productive life but managing its effects allows us to live a more meaningful one.