Remember life before the internet? What about the smartphone? If you grew up pre 2000’s you know exactly what life was like before technology forever changed the way we interact with others, work, play and pastime. I remember the days of doing research papers in school and having to use the card catalog system in the library to search out information. It was agonizing and tedious, but hey, it’s all we knew or had for that matter. Technology has certainly enabled us to be much more efficient in many aspects of our lives. As we’ve grown in our use of technology so have the side effects that come from our technology dependency in the office and at home, especially with our smartphones.
The side effects I speak of, impatience and declining interpersonal skills, directly impact an incredibly important part of our being - our peace of mind.
People have become increasingly more impatient than they’ve ever been. I know because I’m one of them. The golden rule in business back in the day was to return a phone call within 24 hours. Today, if we don’t get a response in 30 minutes we think the person on the other end is avoiding us or must not have received our call. We then resort to a whole list of communication outreach shenanigans, frantically trying to get a response by texting, Facebooking, IG-ing, LinkedIn Messenger, emailing from three different addresses and blasting off SnapChats. Sound familiar?
The result of our increased impatience is a heightened level of stress. When we’re stressed the last thing on our minds is peacefulness which leads to bad decision making, mistakes and a decline in our health. Stress is the real McCoy here as over 75% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments.
Our interpersonal skills are also experiencing side effects of smartphones and their associates technologies. At an alarming rate we’re focused on the technology in front of us rather than the people and experiences we’re surrounded by. Ever been to a restaurant and see a couple facing one another, not saying a word, both eating ferociously while they text and bounce from one social media app to the next? An entire meal goes by with little more said than ‘pass the guac’. Parents at playgrounds are absorbed into their phones while their kids play about unaware that mom and dad are more interested in the scrolling unyielding stream of meme’s and picture perfect vacation images of strangers rather than their own kids development and experiences. Our conversations and relationships suffer because we are fixated on what is happening in the world thousands of miles away rather than what’s right in front of us.
Folks, it’s not a pretty picture. Smartphones, while useful in many ways, have had a dramatic change on the way we operate.
While I know the above to be true, I’m also an addict. Like many of you reading this I too am addicted to the never ending stream of nonsense on my phone. Yesterday a good friend of mine encouraged me to do a little test, one that I’ve jumped into wholeheartedly. As I write this article I’m 24 hours into a social media hiatus. I’m going for a month off, then from there I’ll evaluate how my life is for better (my hunch is this will be the case) or for worse without social media. I’ve deleted all social media apps from my smartphone and am excited to experience an existence without those distractions.
I encourage you to join me in a month of social media/ smartphone hiatus.
Use these five techniques to unplug so you can start enjoying life in the moment:
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.