I had a weird/scary moment last week. Not scary-bad as much as scary-unusual. While driving, I actually…looked around at my surroundings. When I was stopped at a red light, I people-watched. No Facebook status updates, no Twitter posts, no Instagram feed. Just driving and thinking. Not surprisingly, and as you may have guessed, it took a moment of forgetfulness – leaving my phone at home – for me to actually appreciate the silence and solitude of my drive.
There are plenty of stories online about people who disconnect from the network and how it affects them; my favorite came from Barantude Thurston of Fast Company. Usually the story begins with some anecdotal tales of how their ever-connectedness via social media caused them to lose the ability to engage person-to-person. Next comes the withdrawal symptoms of “fear of missing out (FOMO),” an actual anxiety that has been covered by The New York Times (forgive me if I think this is wholly an ultimate “First World Problem”). Finally, the protagonist realizes that with silence comes inner peace, or something akin to that.
I’ve not felt that FOMO, since I purposely keep my circle small enough to keep in touch as needed. However, I recognize that as I have more accessibility to email, social networks and news on my smart phone, it becomes harder to just put the phone down. I want to be visually and mentally stimulated at all times, and I’m not the only one who sees it as a potential issue. Dating is an area where technology has skewed what is normal and what is not, as described in this article. Children are not engaging in reading as they once were because of increased time looking at screens. The more technology helps, the more it hurts apparently.
I always say that any potential future offspring will likely hate me, because I don’t believe in giving children access to technology just because it exists. The kid that I spend the most time around regularly asks to play games on my tablet and smart phone and 9 times out of 10, the answer is no. Just yesterday, they told me the ultimate worst situation for a kid: “I’m bored.” My response…good. Be bored. Learn how to just sit and think and be still. You’ll appreciate it when you’re an adult and you look back at those hours of free time you had, wondering how you filled a whole day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I provide entertainment in the form of answering any and all questions asked of me, especially if it becomes a learning experience. I’m thinking I should start taking my own advice though, and create learning moments outside my house and an Internet connection.
Do you feel a FOMO? Are you on a technology fast or diet, or do you take one every so often to reconnect to human beings?