You wake up the morning and before saying hi to anyone in the house you say hi to your phone. Walking on the way to the bathroom you make sure to grab your phone to check any messages on the way. Slowing down at the stoplight in the car is an invitation to see if you have any messages and perhaps even begin responding. At lunch we make sure to have it with us. Waiting anywhere is a cue to engage anything on the phone. Before going to bed it’s the last thing we kiss goodnight.
There’s a very subtle, and for some, not-so-subtle habitual relationship with our technology. I could easily make the argument that most of us have an addiction to our screens. In China there are currently 400 intensive treatment center for web addiction. An entire documentary called Web Junkie has been created to chronicle this issue there (Note: I’ll be at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles, California on October 5th doing a Q&A after this screening). Many of us may not feel we have a web addiction, but in truth, most of us have some form of this.
In a recent talk, Thich Nhat Hanh compared technology to a horse and said we’re currently riding it. When someone walks up and says to the rider, “Where are you going?” The rider looks at the person and replies, “I don’t know, ask the horse.” There it is, we have lost control of technology, it’s driving us, and we are no longer driving it.
The reality is, technology isn’t a positive or negative force in our lives, it’s technology. But, like riding a horse, we have to learn how to harness it to make good use of it.
To harness your relationship with technology, take a short inventory:
In what ways does my relationship to technology distract me or stress me out?
What information am I taking in that isn’t nourishing to my life or well-being?
Do I use technology to cover up my loneliness?
Does my relationship to technology take me away from friends and family?
When does it feel like technology is stealing time away from taking care of myself?
For many of us technology creates “micro-disconnections” from ourselves, our loved ones and the beauty of the world. But it also has the power to facilitate connection within ourselves, connections to mindfulness, enhancement of compassion and support to those in need foster “micro-connections.”
The choice is in our hands right now.
It’s not about ditching technology, it’s about being intentional with our relationship to it to use it for good. For most of us, if we choose to allow routine to continue, the horse will drive our personal lives. But we can set an intention each day in how we want to use this technology in ways that enhance connection and well-being.
How do I or can I use technology to take care of myself?
How do I or can I use technology to help me foster connection?
Let’s gather as a community right now. How do you use technology for good? In what ways do you feel like it steals your time?
Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy