Myfictions Blog

The Power of Off

The Power of Off

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc:

The intimacy between human beings and technology, especially with the mobile phone,has grown rapidly. Because of its easy mobility, we take it to almost every place like office, kitchen, even while going to washroom and in our bed when we sleep at night. Because of the increasing facilities given by it, we spend most of the time being accompanied by it. This dependency on technology has started creating problems and difficulties. What are those problems and how can they be solved? We are going to focus over that today through this summary.

       An average of thirteen to fourteen hours is spent checking mails and messages. The addiction of social media and internet has become much deadlier than that the drug addiction. Why do we keep on checking messenger and messages every now and then? The reason is that messengers and emails activate our lottery brain which is the feeling that some magical and entertaining things are hidden in our messenger and inbox .According to a research done by Harvard University, the use of social networking sites activates oxytocin and dopamine hormones in our brain. These hormones provide us a sense of faith, security and pleasures while using social medias. Another research was carried out by Susan Moller, the Professor of Maryland University. The research was done among the students of ten countries which was named “The World Unplugged." In that research it was found out that when the students were restricted to use mobile for twenty four hours, they had a significant increase in their mental tension. The most interesting thing was that the people of the age group between eighteen to forty were the main victim of technology addiction.

   The overuse of mobile phones has resulted in sleeplessness, decrease in interest for family and own self, lack of creativity and even the suicidal rates have increased. People have become wikipediaholic whose meaning is using Wikipedia for each and every information.Wikipediholic people use the nearest available computer, desktop or mobile to find out the information by leaving whatever work they are doing. Because of this tendency, we have become like a walking information tank as people with information are considered to be intelligent and wise. Like an emotionless robot, we insert earphones in our ears and focus on the mobile screen rather than our surroundings. This has caused people to become the victim of information syndrome. In a survey that was carried out online, it was found out that fifty three percent of adults spend time playing online games. A young person spends ten thousand hours playing online games which are equal to the time spent attending lower secondary and secondary level school. The one and only reason why people waste a lot of time playing online games and using social media is that they want to make their boring time interesting. Basically our leisure time refers to as boring time. Is our leisure time really a boring time? The answer is obviously not. Rather, leisure time is the time when we can get involved in something creative. For example-Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under the tree in his leisure time thinking why the objects fall down to earth instead of going up. This thought at leisure time gave us the law of gravitation. Hence, leisure time can be much more effective if we get engaged in creative activities.

     In the history of fifty years, it is revealed that the overuse of technology has caused a heavy decline in the creativity of children. Online and virtual games operate on already defined instructions because of which the intellectual development can’t be done. Either at a party or social gatherings, our mobiles occupy importance rather than people. Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of Essex University had carries out a study regarding the effect of the presence of mobile phones in social gatherings. It was discovered that due to the presence of mobile phones, the time spent on social gatherings had become less effective as the focus was given to mobile phone rather than the people. This indicates that we have started being detached from our relations. There was a time when the presence of our friends and relatives was valuable for us. But that time has been made valueless by mobile phones. Now days we have made intimacy with technology making our relations far away from us. we rarely give time to others and even if give them time, we cancel it at the last moment just by sending a message. This shows that we are being an escapist as we are running away from our commitment and responsibility. We have a lot of time for virtual world, but we are too busy if we have to give the same time to our friends and relatives.

   If we are to spend some time with someone, our eyes are stuck to our mobile phones every now and then. National Centers for Biotechnology had carried out a research in 2000 and 2015 about how long a person can stay focused on something. In 2000 AD, the average focusing time was twelve seconds while that in 2015 was 8.25 seconds which was one second less than the attention focusing capacity of Goldfish. Our relation is being dumped into the dustbin of digital world, and one third of the population suffers from the mental pressures caused by technology. The proverb ‘Sharing is caring’ holds no any value in the present time. Sharing refers to making relations, exchanging gossips of happiness and sorrows, and making emotional attachments. But now days sharing simply mean exchange of digital files and applications through our gadgets. No doubt mobile phone has opened thousands of ways for communication, but it has almost damaged our relations with the people of our surroundings. It is because we enjoy talking to people in virtual world, but ignore those who are around us.

        The great American man Ralph Waldo Emerson had predicted that because of finding out time by looking at watch, people will lose the idea of finding out the time looking at the sun. It is not bad if we don’t know to tell the time by looking at the position of the sun but it is bad in the sense that most of us don’t know that there is relation between sun’s position and time. We rarely notice the people and surrounding around us which is the proof that we are losing our relation with the physical world and its aspect. We feel proud to become winner in PUBG which gives us virtual chicken dinner,but how many of us have invited our friends and relatives for a real dinner? Or let’s say how many of us have tried winning their hearts?

      If this question is asked, 95% of the people will bow down head in silence. We proudly share about having video chat with friends and relatives in foreign countries but we don’t know even our neighbors’ name. We are in a hurry to end conversation with the people we meet on the way or even at home because we are in a hurry to chat with online friends or play online games. It seems as if our friends, relatives and neighbors are distracting us from virtual world which we think to be real. The author has given an example of a woman who enjoyed playing a game called “The Sims 3.”According to that woman she liked the game because it let her be socialized by being a character of the game who used to enjoy the company of her virtual neighborhood and society. She found happiness in virtual neighborhood whereas she was detaching away from society in real life as being socialized with real life people was boring for her.

     The social psychologist, Sherry Turkle, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology views that we are much more connected to each other than in the past. However, we are still detached from each other as the connection is limited only in the virtual world. It doesn’t mean that the virtual world is bad but the happiness that we get in each other’s company in the real world can’t be given by any virtual world. People are determined on being famous and for them being famous simply means being popular in social media and virtual world. We are becoming a show off person as we post about almost everything on social medias. We feel happy if we have many followers on Instagram, Tiktok and Facebook and feel sad if we don’t have. Who are these followers? Originally, followers refer to those people who have faith on us, who follow our principles and respect us as well. However, in the digital age followers are the group of people who know nothing about us in reality,except the post that we make. The interesting thing is that these followers can be purchased on Facebook, Twitter and other virtual platforms. It is to be kept in mind that our identity doesn’t lie in the likes, comments, and reactions we get on our posts. Rather it’s a thing that is created by our relations and intimacy with others. Like the waves of sea that come and go, we are lost in the waves of digital world losing our life, the greatest gift.

    Each and every moment we are accompanied by some kind of digital entertainment. Our tendency to make a show off in the virtual world has put our real life identity in crisis. In order to get rid of it, we must have some downtime. Downtime refers to the time when keep aside all our gadgets for a time being. According to Buddhist ideology, our mind is restless drunk monkey which is stung by bees.So how to keep this drunk and restless monkey away from technology? The best way out for this is practicing mindfulness which refers to focusing on present time by making a control over our emotions, thoughts and physical aspects. It is a ki8nd of meditation that makes us aware about the happenings around us. It can be started from our morning routine. When you wake up in the morning, listen to different sounds of birds without judging which bird is that or from where the sound is coming. This helps you focus on the happenings of present time. A few minutes later, shift you attention to your breathing process. Try to feel where the breathing process is passing through. It may be in the nose, chest or stomach. If your focus gets distracted, start the whole process of respiration once again. After five to ten minutes of this exercise, focus on the movement happening inside your body like the heart beat, the movement of the nerves etc.

       Thereafter, focus on your brain’s movement like if the brain is quiet or is it busy thinking something else. The main purpose of doing this is not controlling brain but to see what the brain is doing. Following this, pay attention to your internal emotions like happiness, excitement and so on. Finally, after doing this we come to the present time as we become aware about the happenings around us. This is mindfulness which helps us increase our attention regarding the people and events around us. Besides these, you can practice some habits at home if you really want to get rid of technology addiction. All you need is doing some activities in your daily routine. You neither have to pay any money nor give up your job nor be away from your family. You can do it just from home without going to any rehabilitation center. You’ve to follow it for thirty days and then make it part of your routine life. So without any delay, let’s get started.

#Day 1-If you feel the desire to use phone or computer, ask yourself first whether it is necessary or out of habit you are doing it.If the answer is out of habit, then so yourself from doing it.

#Day 2-Prevent the use of technology when talking and interacting with people. They may be anyone like shopkeeper, relatives friends etc.

#Day 3-Keep your device away from you when not in use. Not even in your pocket

#Day 4-Do not use any device during the first hour after you wake up in the morning.

#Day 5-Do not use any devices during the last hour before you go to bed.

#Day 6-Turn off all the notifications and alerts on your device except your alarm clock.

#Day 7-Do not use your device on public transportation.

#Day 8-Write down four simple activities or experiences that keep you spirited.For example singing song, taking a visit to some nearby place etc. Do these activities the very day.

#Day 9-Do not use your mobile while waiting in line –any kind of line.

#Day 10-Do not use technology in car except when you need GPS help.

    #Day 11-Do not use your mobile while waiting for something to begin like movie, drama concert etc.

#Day 12-Do not use your gadget during events like concerts, theater etc.

#Day 13-Make your bathroom a tech free zone.

#Day 14-Do not use technology while walking on the street.

#Day 15-Make your bedroom a tech free zone .Remove all the devices and computers and avoid using them in the place where you sleep.

#Day 16-Set aside two or three hours when you will be tech free.This can be scheduled once in a week end if it’s impossible during the work days.

 #Day 17- Avoid using gadgets when you are exercising.

#Day 18-Prevent using internet to find out non-related things like finding out the date of birth of a celebrity, the year a certain song was released and so on. Wait at least twenty four hours before finding out the answer.

#Day 19-If you are addicted a particular website, sign up for Net Nanny or another service that will help you prevent from opening it.

#Day 20-Refrain from using device while cooking or eating.

#Day 21-Refrain from using when walking or being in nature.

#Day 22-At least one in a month, remain tech free. It can be the last Saturday or Sunday of every month or anytime that is suitable to you. Tell your friends and relatives that you won’t be available through means of any technology. In case of emergency, keep someone who can inform you about it.

#Day 23-When you go for a vacation, go tech free without taking any kind of gadgets.

#Day 24-Stay away from gadgets while talking to your children, parents or while playing with your pets.

#Day 25-Take a half-hour tech free walks with no destination. Wander like a happy dog.

#Day 26-Spend ten minutes doing nothing. Sit still, be quiet, listen to sounds feel your breathe, experience the sensation in your body.

#Day 27-Send a handwritten card, letter or note to anyone you know. Express your feelings regarding the tech detox program you are going through.

#Day 28-Do something in real that you would ordinarily do online-for example, call a friend instead of mailing or go to the food store or book store by yourself instead of ordering them online.

#Day 29-Write down three things non-related to technology you are grateful for or happy about.

#Day 30-Feel the present time by stopping whatever you are doing. See where you are and sense your experience regarding where you are. 

      If you follow this routine properly and got through this thirty day tech detox method don’t forget to congratulate yourself. It’s because you have done a very difficult work which people find difficult to accomplish. But don’t forget to follow it on regular basis even after thirty days. Many generations of people have come and gone from earth,but technology is such a thing which will remain on the earth forever. Hence, we need to find freedom in technology rather than freedom from technology. This freedom can be obtained when we practice mindfulness technique as told before. It’s to be kept in mind that another world exists outside the screen of mobile. So instead of searching for something magical on the mobile screen, we should find it in the company of our family and friends circle. This can be possible when we make technology our servant instead of making it our master. Our small acts of sharing our views and supporting each other can bring huge difference in our world .However, for this we must dare to come out of the virtual world,and realize the happiness obtained in the company of people around us.  

Sandeep Kattel

Blog Writer

Sandeep Kattel is a Lecturer of English at various collleges in Nepal .He has been writing stories for a long time, but he started publishing them only recently.He is also working on his two books - Family Cafe, which is a novel and another book Defying Odds Optimizing Caliber ,which is a motivational book.He is interested in writing short stories related to contemporary issues.

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