Turning Off the Turmoil

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I have a friend who is recently single. Her husband woke her up on a Saturday morning to let her know he was unhappy and he moved out. Their break up has been done over social media, email, texts, and rarely ever in person. My friend proclaimed to me a few days ago that she “f*^g hated facebook and her phone.” I told her to shut that crap down. Immediately. I recommended that she not respond to her soon-to-be-ex unless he wants to man up and she needed to woman up and confront the situation in order to end it.

As professionals and human beings, we NEED to separate ourselves from the devices we’ve become accustom to having. A friend and I ran a 5k this fall. I run intervals and she said she would try to run a little bit. She ended up checking her phone the whole time. I had jogged ahead of her and turned around to check on her only to see her looking at her phone. I was pissed. I screamed, “get off your god damned phone and live the life that’s right in front of you!!!! i’m right here, look at all these people running with us, whatever is in that phone can wait 45 minutes.” She didn’t get off her phone, I ran the course and waited another 30 min. for her to finish. Miraculously she crossed the finish line without her phone in her hand but in her pocket.

Social media, email, and everything technology related can be hard to stomach. The spoken word is so powerful and the range of other non-verbal cues that come with it are far more important than the message itself sometimes. As someone who researches facial cues and non-verbal behaviors, I can say with some amount of certainty that these cues drive us. A flat facebook message or email does not get across any of the truly important aspects related to the communication: the human connection. Email is great for business, for seeing how the kids are, for confirming flights, and scheduling meetings but rarely is it a great medium for someone’s joy, laughter, tears, heartache, or range of motions in between. Facebook is wonderful for sharing photos, puppies, babies, more babies, and your latest life experience but the only true way to connect is to communicate. Emoticons help but are less than two dimensional.

As our semester winds down and we begin to feel the emotional onslaught that comes with the end of a term, I urge you to check in with yourself and turn off your devices. Take a two hour break during the middle of the day. Stop working before the sun goes down and get some vitamin D. Stop pushing your emails, facebook notifications, and everything in between. Turn off the turmoil in your life and turn on the relationships you have with the people sitting in front of you. Your heart will thank you. Besides, you can always check out everyone’s Thanksgiving feasts later and black friday deals next week.

Your online addiction may be adversely affecting your life more than you think. I enjoyed the tidbits this article provided and have made my own steps to calm down my technology use to balance home time and work time. I do enjoy reading books on my iPad and playing Angry Birds, but have learned to turn off notifications and sounds when I’m busy, even if busy is watching TV or when I’m with friends, enjoying what I’m doing, and avoiding my digital life. After reading the HBR article about online addictions, I took my own stock and reflected on what I did and didn’t do. Here’s what I do:

  • I turn off my ringer in the mornings when I work. I work best during this time and do not want to be disturbed by texts or calls.
  • I continue to carry a good notebook with me for meetings. If my mind wanders and my laptop or iPad is open, I’ll stop paying attention to the meeting.
  • I break up my days with exercise when I can. Working out in the middle of the day helps re-energize me for the long afternoons. It doesn’t happen every day but I take advantage of it when it does.

This is what I can always work on:

  • Impulsively checking. Ugh. Sometimes I catch myself doing it and then I think, “stop it, it’s the weekend/night/not email time.”
  • Setting aside time to check in with myself and write. My writing/research writing efforts need to be amped up. I can’t help but admit that technology hinders that productivity and focus.
  • Stop letting Pavlovian pull suck me in. Must. Stop.

I’ll keep working on it if you will. As a new faculty, it can be tough to balance all of your job responsibilities and your real life.

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9 thoughts on “Turning Off the Turmoil

  1. neurovantage says:

    Reblogged this on Neuro Vantage and commented:
    A great post…. Though, there’s some irony in re-posting it using my mobile device.

  2. Great post – I wish more people had the same attitude.

  3. […] ← Turning Off the Turmoil December 3, 2012 · 7:35 am ↓ Jump to Comments […]

  4. […] me thinking about taking time and how precious it has become. I’ve harped on technology use time and time again, but it’s not invading the worst situations in our lives, making it more and […]

  5. […] and I have always been friends, and I’ve discussed it before and once again making some rules–incidentally, it was just about a year ago in August, so it […]

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