I wanted to address the topic of media addiction. Now first, I would like to point out that addiction is a term that I believe that we over-use, and I hope that I don’t offend anyone whose life has been ruined by addiction when using that term. It seems disrespectful to say the word and mean it when referring to spending too much time on Facebook, when to others addiction is something that steals money and family and ruins lives. Also, I understand the irony in using the blog to rant about such a topic. So let’s make a deal: After you read this blog, turn off your computer, phone, or tablet. Then, read a book, do something creative, enjoy the outdoors, or spend a few moments in meditation or self-hypnosis.
Our world is changing. There is no doubt about it. This is the Information Age where most of us have constant Internet access, and many of us have a whole world’s worth of information on a screen that is small enough to fit in a pocket. Even as I type the word “internet,” Word underlines the error because “Internet” needs to be capitalized as though it’s some sort of divine force that commands our respect.
I can’t help but notice that it’s become popular to criticize this age’s affect on society’s intelligence. For a while, I never understood how one might say, “A smart phone will make you stupid.” After all, it used to be that if we were with a group of people, and one of us had a question, and no one new the answer or had a book that answered that question, the question would be lost, and the group would remain ignorant until someone found a library. We don’t have to wonder anymore.
Could that become a problem? Could fact that so many lusts, ideas, pieces of information, or feelings can be experienced at the click of a button make us addicted to curiosity and kill our ambition to work for these experiences? Are we ok with so many couples finding their mates based on an algorithm instead of enabling more creative methods of human interaction? Are we comfortable basing truth on what Google says first? Should real avocation and activism be traded for the likes I can acquire on my Facebook page? [Please understand that I am not advocating for any censorship or limitation of information to the general public in any way.]
When I first got to college, Facebook was just a new thing. By the time I graduated college, the iPhone must have been just a year old. My generation is the first to mature among these changes. Personally, I believe that we are starting to obtain information without any knowledge or wisdom of it, and we may be trading a relationship with a screen over a relationship with a human being.
The problem is that we need to “stay connected” if we want to stay relevant. Every one wants to keep in touch with friends and family via Facebook. Every professional needs a Like page, LinkedIn account, website, twitter, and blog. I don’t have any creative ideas for changing that standard, but here is how I know being so connected is a problem for me:
Do you ever walk into a room with no idea what it is you were looking for? You instead gravitate towards the most amusing feature of the room be it the fridge or the TV. Imagine having all of your belongings in one room of your home at the same time. You would never get anything done. That’s how being connected works for me. I get on the computer to work on my practice’s budget, but first, I need to see if anyone has liked the picture I just posted of my dog. Before I know it, I’ve been scrolling my minifeed and laughing at memes for the past half hour with no memory as to why I got on my computer in the first place.
To combat the issue I have come up with a list of guidelines to help me not loose my imagination in cyberspace.
1. Before you sign on, know why.
For too many of us, checking our phones or our computers is an impulse. See if you can keep your social network activity to just a few minutes at a time and only a few times a day. If you have other business to attend to, consciously state your intention, and keep you social networking tabs closed while trying to work. I might recommend keeping those social tabs open for 5-10 minutes at a time.
2. Establish screen etiquette.
I could make an entire post on this one topic. There is a time to check your screens. That time is not when you are sharing a meal or when you are visiting with friends, family, or clients that you don’t see everyday. Also, food is for eating not for taking pictures.
Furthermore, it should go without saying that if you wouldn’t want the whole world knowing about it, you shouldn’t post it on line. People are happy to make unreasonable assumptions about others based on what they post on line. You know this to be true, because you’ve probably done it. Also, value your own privacy, and try not to impose too much information about your life onto everyone who has ever met you.
3. Learn what is credible.
This is something my pride will continue to have me struggle with. It’s important to get many views on a subject (not just the one that supports your current outlook) before you establish an opinion. After developing said opinion, presenting it as fact to the rest of the world won’t win you a ton of friends (or at least ones who will help you start some sort of revolution).
4. Try not to begin and end your day with a screen.
You should not be screened in from the moment you wake till the moment you sleep. Set your alarm, close your apps, and then go to bed. Turn your alarm off, and then don’t check your email until you’ve had breakfast, meditated, exercised, or have done what ever else needed to complete your morning routine. This will give your brain a chance to warm up and cool down. The idea is to not be over-stimulated.
5. Take time to disconnect every day.
Just to remind yourself that you are more than a profile on a computer, put your phone on airplane mode and close your laptop for at least a couple of minutes a day. I try to spend 20 minutes in meditation in the morning and in the evening. During those 40 minutes, I keep my phone on airplane mode as I go inside my mind. I find it best to not look at it as cutting off the world as much it is connecting to your unconscious.
I’m going to sign off and hopefully start being better at practicing what I preach. As always, I invite questions, comments and criticisms. If there is a way that Music City Hypnotherapy can help you connect to your unconscious, don’t hesitate to contact me.