IE Grapevine Updates

Reassessing our relationship with technology

I recently heard a college student say that her phone is like an extension of her hand. At first I thought she was kidding, until I realized this wasn’t a joke. Her phone literally never leaves the palm of her hand. Even if she isn’t using it at the moment, there it sits, always in grasp.

This trend is becoming more and more common, not just among college students, but in people of all ages. And this behavior doesn’t stop at just cell phones. It includes all forms of technology. Our society is becoming increasingly more reliant on technology in nearly all areas of life. And while technology in itself is not a bad thing, perhaps it is a good idea to assess just how strong of a hold it has on our lives.

There are times when technology is extremely helpful. Technological advancements have done great things for science, medicine, education, and many other facets of our lives. But there are times when our over-reliance on technology may actually be harmful. I’m willing to bet most of us know this, but it’s not really something we want to think about or admit.

Technology becomes harmful when it’s used as a crutch for blocking out what’s physically in front of us, especially when it comes to blocking out people who we could otherwise be interacting with. Scrolling through your newsfeed on your phone is the easiest way to avoid feeling awkward at a party where you’re the first among your friends to arrive. But maybe we could just push through the discomfort of not knowing anyone and find a way to meet new people instead of staying in our own little bubble. It sounds scary, and it might not always go so smoothly, but who knows what kinds of friendships and connections we could make when we engage with those who are physically in front of us.

We all need a time when we step away from our devices and fully engage with family, friends, nature, our jobs, our rest, or our other tasks. Setting aside time each day when you disconnect yourself from technology for even just a meal is something that can be hugely beneficial. It breaks us out of the mindlessness that too much technology time often leaves us with.

Sometimes this can be hard to do because we get in a habit of always chatting with someone on our phones or online. One way to break out of this cycle is by letting the other person know that you’re going to be doing “fill in the blank” for however long and that you will talk to them again when you’re done. This is a great way to ensure that you’re not spending more time on your phone than you are with whoever you’re actually hanging out with. Whoever you’re with will appreciate this and the person you’re texting should understand.

Here’s a question to consider: Why are we choosing technology over engaging with life? Why are we choosing to be so disconnected from our surroundings? The answer to this question is probably different for everyone. Tablets, mini consoles, e-readers, cell phones, TVs, and computers are always competing for our attention. There are appropriate times to use each of these devices. But a lot can be gained if we become better at using them in more moderation. Too much of nearly anything is not a good thing – the same goes with technology.

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