On bringing more awareness to your relationship with technology.
By Wes Kennison
This article will define what I mean when I say “Digital Mindfulness”, in order to reference as needed moving forward.
Some examples of what the hell I’m talking about, shared entirely without judgment, because we’re ALL collectively figuring this out as a species and I certainly don’t have this figured out for myself yet.
I struggle with the below regularly:
- Doom scrolling ourselves to sleep (guilty)
- Ignoring precious little moments that could be spent in connection with others or reflection with ourselves and instead looking to a screen to occupy our minds (guilty)
- Pouring gasoline on the fire that is shortening attention spans in children by allowing them unlimited screen time from an early age thus rewiring their little neural receptors in irreversible ways. (not guilty)
- Allowing the dopamine rush that fuels the clamoring for likes and attention we see on social media to go unobserved. (guilty)
- Rolling out of bed and picking up your phone (guilty).
These examples of things we do with our phones, tablets, and computers are just mostly anecdotal points of challenge for me that I think will resonate with most so as to get us started in outlining the basic concept.
Simply defined, Digital Mindfulness is an awareness of the highs and lows we experience in our interactions with technology.
This ruthless pendulum swing is not something we have to be at the whim of. Quite the opposite, this awareness can occur as these highs and lows pass us by, in real time, so as to be more balanced in the long run. The only actionable thing I have so far on this topic is this:
Step 1 is treating the fuzzy dopamine bump you get from likes and the prickly cortisol spike when you get ignored AS THE SAME THING.
Important to note here, I am not advocating digital abstinence as an antidote to these harmful habits. Celibacy is cool and all, but it’s an awful denial of our human instincts, and an opportunity killer in the context of technology. I would love to be able to explain the actions one ought to take into a simple little box, or a tutorial styled series of steps, but that’s not the nature of awareness unfortunately. As much as we love explaining solutions, this act is not as valuable as exploring what feels right so as to find the right fit for YOU, and build a better sense of being in tune with the ways technology throws a wrench in our flow of the moment.
For me, simply noticing the moments when my phone takes me out of balance with myself and my presence in my relationships was a HUGE step in the right direction of developing a healthier relationship with screens. The followup action to noticing shifted from beating myself up for it, to giving myself some grace then re-engaging with whatever was happening around me in the moment, to ultimately, putting the phone down as a matter of course.