Do you remember the times when it was necessary to dial phone numbers on a landline? The actual phone number had to be memorized, versus finding the number in our contact list as we do now.
America is experiencing information overload more than ever before and it looks like it’ll only increase. This information overload that plagues us makes it difficult for us to form long-term memories. The reason for this is because information enters our brain so rapidly that we are unable to filter out what’s important and what isn’t. As a result, it doesn’t get stored into long-term memory. Long-term memories are what shape our thoughts and experiences.
The bottom line is this: The more we rely heavily on smartphones and technology, the less information we’ll be able to store in our long-term memory, making us less capable of shaping our thoughts and experiences. Memory externalization isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it shouldn’t replace our ability to learn and remember from external experiences and our surroundings.
Have you ever had pet goldfish? I did and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t keep my goldfish’s attention. Now I wonder if my attention span is dwindling to that of a goldfish.
Did you know that even the mere presence of a smartphone—regardless of whether it’s on silent or turned off—impairs cognitive function? This is because the brain was actively working to not pick up the smartphone and start using it. When we’re not using our phones, we feel as though we are missing out on something that’s just been posted to social media or a news article that everyone is talking about.
Socializing in-person and online is different. With our online presence, we choose the best versions of ourselves along with the best online qualities—hashtags, statuses, stories, filters—you name it. We’re unable to see the quirks, imperfections, and vulnerabilities that truly connect us to one another. We often idolize those who seem to have “perfect” lives and it causes us to feelings of inadequacy, low-self esteem, and feelings of loneliness. A study found that 48% of young people under the age of thirty-five felt like they could only confide in one person, versus three confidants, based on a study conducted twenty-five years ago. It’s rather ironic, as we have more “friends” than we can count on our online accounts – hundreds, if not thousands – and yet we’re lonelier than ever.
How Do We Unplug?
Here are some ways that have worked for me personally, when managing phone and technology usage:
- Go on a digital fast for a day to remind yourself of life beyond your phone
- Turn off notifications during family events or other outings, work, classes, etc. I also like to turn off app notifications on the weekends, except for calls and text messages.
- Schedule consistent “dates” with your loved ones
- Form social networks that you can interact with in real life, like a church group or hiking club
- Go on an outdoor adventure: camping, road trips, hiking in nature
- If you use technology for work, make an effort to schedule the times you use it. For example, set aside some time to check your e-mail instead of compulsively checking it throughout the day
- Use an alarm app that requires you to get up in order to turn it off. For example, leaving the phone downstairs or in another room. This will discourage using the phone before bedtime.
(Submitted by Betty Dean. Used by permission from www.lifeandhealth.org
Courtesy of LifeSpring – Resources for Hope and Healing Stuart, VA)