Staying disconnected from digital media for any period of time is such a challenge these days for most of us.
There is a definitive impact of the Internet on my attention span. I can feel it on an everyday basis. When I am doing research for work, the need to pepper in some wasteful social media and news article reading time is often very strong; to the extent that the inability to have the distraction becomes a burden in itself. Sometimes, I have to force myself to get to the end of a document or article before switching tabs. Honestly, when I force myself to focus in this manner, I find myself having to re-read entire sections of said document or article due to a lack of focus! I often wonder how I would fare if I were tested for attention-deficit-disorder (ADD) now. I am pretty sure attentiveness was not an issue ten years ago in my life but I cannot say that with any conviction today.
I conducted a little experiment back in May 2014. I was going on vacation and I refused to get online for 4 full days. Well- almost not online. Since I was going to be on a Caribbean island and my Indian mother was determined to freak out without daily check-ins, I was offline except for a daily “I’m still alive” text message to her.
The surprising thing about being offline is how much more active your mind can become. You can develop almost a renewed sense of appreciation for the world around you. I have never been a good photographer and I count that as one of the blessings in my life. The camera is, in my opinion, one of the earliest examples of how you can lose out on experiencing the moment in your endeavor to capture it for posterity. I believe that’s true for habits such as using your cell phone to pass the time when you’re standing in line at the grocery store. These mundane situations are rich with possibilities for having serendipitous interactions with other real, live human beings that you may never get to say a word to otherwise. Your mind and body thrive on these interactions. It’s a shame that we don’t indulge these needs more- because our digital crutch has truly made us impaired!
If anything, I hope this article forces you to think about just how dependent you are on electronic media/digital devices. I was going to say electronic approval- but that’s a whole other topic for another day! I will leave you with this link to similar ideas and dicussions on the Scientific American NetLoss: Secintific American Article