Finding calm: it’s not about unplugging

Neema Moraveji, director of Stanford University's Calming Technology Lab, adds to the ongoing conversation about anxiety and technology by arguing that you don't have to put down your smartphone in order to get some peace. 

In a recent blog post about bringing a semi-unwelcomed guest on his vacation (his smart phone), Moraveji reflects on how to balance his offline and online time. In his struggle to unplug, Moraveji comes to the realization that the phone is not the issue here.

He writes:

It turns out that I found it's not really about unplugging per se – it's about creating calm. If you have calm in your body, mind, and heart, you don't have to be so strict about unplugging. You can feel when enough is enough. You find the physical world more appealing. Your life is less about rules and more about connection. 

Moraveji is not the first to make this observation lately. Soren Gordhamer, author of "Wisdom 2.0" and creator of the Wisdom 2.0 conferences, made a similar argument last week. He published a blog post in response to a New York Times article on Silicon Valley leaders telling people to unplug for their devices. The article cited Gordhamer and Wisdom 2.0 and addressed the need to find balance. 

Gordhamer argues that the call to unplug from devices, and even the search for balance, misses out on the larger discussion: how we can use technology mindfully.

He writes: 

A day spent withour your device, but instead spent gossiping to friends and neighbors, is surely much less impactful than one spent on social media helping to raise money for a well in rural Africa so people without water can drink. 

Gordhamer says the real conversation has less to do with putting down our devices, or balancing our time between offline and online. Instead, the real conversation is about wisdom and living with meaning and purpose–which can be accomplished with our without our gadgets. 

For more stories on unplugging from our devices, click here. 


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