Outliers in an Age of Technology

“In an age of speed, I begin to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.  In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention.  And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” ~ Pico Iyer

slowdownThis morning I listened to a new song on the radio about being still in the company of another person.   There was a break in the song, lasting only a second or so, but definitely “radio silence” and I thought it was over, then the song resumed and it made me think what a creative choice the musician made by inserting stillness into his music.

How often do any of us get still these days in the age of an over-stimulated society, where technology often trumps eye contact and conversation? It’s something I hear more about these days as I notice the frequency of Smart phones and other devices taking up our attention. I have a pet peeve about going to restaurants and observing groups together for a meal, yet each is otherwise engaged on their cell phone texting, checking social media or news, and generally being somewhere else but with each other.

There is a balance and I keep hoping it will one day be considered somewhat impolite to bring out a phone in the company of others. Right now, the pendulum is so far over in the other direction, yet I see signs that it is possible to shift culturally. We have to be the change we want to see, as wisdom tells us.

If you are like me and want to create some boundaries around technology, here are a few tips that may work:

  1. Pick one day a week (usually a weekend) that you turn off your device and don’t check it for the day. It may feel strange at first, but also allow you to relax your brain.
  2. Resist the temptation to check your phone during idle time, like waiting for an appointment, in a line, or at a stop light. Replace this automatic response with something else, like paying attention to your breath, bringing a magazine to read or whatever else you used to do before the habit of checking phones took hold.
  3. Say aloud to your friend(s) that you are not bringing out your phone for the lunch date, etc.; that you want to give them your full attention. See what happens.
  4. Throw your phone in the trunk during your commute to resist the temptation to use it while driving. This is especially important if you have kids who watch your phone use and will likely model what you do, not what you say.
  5. Come up with your own way(s) to curb the use and send it to me. I am really interested in shifting the cultural norm and know it begins with outliers, so commit to being an outlier with me. Power is in numbers…

 

 

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