Do we need to untangle?

By Kit Murray

murrayki@mnstate.edu

While in high school, my history teacher would joke that human evolution has done a complete 180. We started out hunched over, then our spines straightened out over time and now we’re hunched over again, fingers laced around a cell phone or iPad, constantly wired to technology. Whether or not this is harmful to our health and social life is up for debate.

What would we do without our cell phones, laptops, email or more importantly, Pinterest? How did anyone figure out how and when to meet up before the 1970s? Our generation has grown up with technology, which is constantly evolving. Our cell phones are checked periodically; if we’ve left our phones aside for a couple of hours we come back to them excitedly, hoping to find multiple texts and Snapchats. It makes us feel wanted and appreciated.

What is wrong with this picture? Our brains are constantly wired; each day we commit over half of our time to technological devices and willingly let it consume our free time.

Granted, there are benefits. Knowledge is constantly at our fingertips waiting to be discovered. If we’ve traveled far from a loved one, the single touch of a button makes their voice heard on the other end of the line.

“The great thing about modern life is you can do so much, and the curse of modern life is you can do so much,” said Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of “CrazyBusy: Overbooked, Overstreched, and About to Snap!”

Of course, our lives are fast-paced.We need technology in order to survive it seems. I understand it helps us stay organized, but cutting back on how often we use it could be beneficial. It could be hurting our health more than we realize.

An interesting topic I came across online was “FOMO.” It’s simply an abbreviation for something that I have found myself guilty of — “fear of missing out.”

While on Facebook, I am constantly receiving invites; my friends are always texting me asking where I am or what I am doing this weekend. People, including myself, are concerned that if they do not attend these events, they are simply missing out.

This is a real thing. My friends are out, and they are having fun without me. Newsflash: they’re not. Feel free to sue me for staying in and knitting rather than going out with you.

Modern gadgetry should not be robbing us of our peace. By learning how to utilize our devices and how to be in control of them, rather than them being in control of us, can be a hard skill to master.

One of my professors told me that over the weekend she does not answer emails or texts. It is a time for her to untangle. She told my class, “there is a time to be professional (Monday through Friday) and a little time for yourself (Saturday and Sunday) for a reason.”

A few solutions may sound simple but can be a challenge to adjust to. Learn moderation, eliminate excess if necessary or leave the cell phone home one day a week.

This can be done with a friend as well. Team up and talk about how refreshing it is to spend time away from technology.

Another interesting way to untangle could be creating a ‘not-to-do’ list. One of my professors is notorious for setting automatic responses for her emails while she is away with information of who to contact if an emergency happens.

“Technology doesn’t stress me out. If I feel like I’m spending too much time on them, I will stop using those devices,” English major Nick Hornbacher said.

Simply cutting back a few hours each day can have unbelievable psychological benefits. Our brains are not meant to be wired 24/7 and neither should we.

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