6 Lessons From A Day Without Modern Technology (Almost)
THE TECHNOLOGICAL 20’S
Welcome to the digital age; a world in which we’re increasingly surrounded by fancy technology. It both amazes and scares me at the same time. The advancements we have seen over such a small time period. The growing access to information. The implications for the future…
Often without realising it, most of us living in modern day societies have become completely dependent on new technology. Our mobile phones, laptops, email, social media, transport systems.
So much so, that the lines between man and machine are often blurred. We are almost partaking in a form of symbiosis with technology. Just like the bees depend on the plants for food, and the plants depend on the bees to spread their pollen. Without our technology, life as we know it would cease to exist.
As technology continues to advance, so does our interaction with it. We identify ourselves with our facebook pages, our mobiles, our blogs, our favourite music and films. Take all that away, and who are we truly?
MY SHORT ESCAPE FROM TECHNOLOGY
The past few weeks have been pretty busy for me. Moving this site to a self hosted platform, writing a load of new content, preparing a bit of freelance work… This blogging stuff is quite technology intensive. It’s fair to say that I’ve spent the majority of the time over the past week in the cyber world, rather than the real one.
Over the weekend just gone, I decided I wanted to take a little break and get away from it all. A day of no phone (apart from a quick call to my girlfriend to explain the situation), no text messages, no laptop, no emails, no car, no TV, no games, and no music. Back to basics, for a short amount of time.
Now, I realise that this little experiment is not exactly ground breaking or all that difficult to do. People used to cope just fine for a long time prior to all this technology being developed, and we probably all have days off now and again without realising. But I thought it would be interesting to go about it consciously and mindfully, and see what I could learn.
On the other hand, some of you younger people who have grown up with these inventions may be completely shocked and appalled, thinking, “What the hell did you do all day?”. Well, I walked, stretched, meditated, rested, helped out around the house, visited family, planned some gifts, read, thought, listened, prepared food, practised the guitar…I lived simply, and learnt a few things while I was at it.
LESSONS FROM MY DAY OFF
The main lessons I learned from this little experiment:
1. We’ve become very dependent on modern technology.
You don’t say…
Most of the technology we use everyday and often don’t give a second thought to has really not been around very long. The internet. Mobile phones. MP3 players. They’ve only been available in the mainstream for the past 20-30 years.
Before them, people still existed and their lives still functioned. Now however, we’re almost completely reliant on these technologies. Our lives are built around them. Without them, the world just wouldn’t work. And it’s not as if we all know how to make them ourselves – we just use things that smart people have developed, and we often take them for granted.
I couldn’t run this blog without the internet, a laptop, or an email account. And I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to set these things up if they no longer existed. It’s fascinating how quickly our perception of ‘normal’ can change…
2. Using technology is a habit.
A few times throughout the day, I had the itch to check my phone or read a few emails. I felt a little nervous, like I would miss something important. These thought patterns are just habits, things I have developed over time through repetition.
Thankfully I was able to watch the itch, and let it pass rather than scratching it, Leo Babuata style. I was able to make my own decision and be proactive, rather than react to the temptation. And if I can do it, so can you.
3. Taking a break is freeing.
I definitely felt as though there was a lot less pressure on me during my short experiment. Although I had a few temptations, for the biggest part of the day I felt great. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I was able to connect more with the people around me, and move my focus outwards, rather than in. I felt in control, rather than being controlled. Freedom, from the shackles of the digital world, even just for a short time.
4. Simplicity leads to mindfulness.
Modern technology has allowed us to do some great things. But it’s also allowed us to surf through the /r/funny subreddit all day or watch silly Youtube videos with reckless abandonment.
Because I was free of distractions, I was able to be much more mindful throughout the day. There was a lot less clutter filling up my mind. No pointless web surfing or distracting email. I felt much more aware of the things going on around me.
Because of this, I felt like the day was longer, just like when I was a child. I could get a lot more done, and there was also a lot more time to do nothing. To just be.
5. It doesn’t hurt to switch off.
As I said, I was a little nervous that I would miss an important text message or email. It’s ridiculous really, but just goes to show how deeply connected with our technology we have become, that I thought that one day off might have an impact.
Anyway, it didn’t. I had a few messages that needed catching up on, but nothing that couldn’t wait for the next day. Disconnecting for a day or even longer won’t kill you. Life goes on.
6. You can’t completely escape the machine.
I didn’t use my phone, laptop, car or TV; but I still took advantage of countless other modern inventions. The fridge, freezer, cooker, electricity, central heating, clean water… The list goes on.
Unless you become a monk, or decide to live in the woods and forage for your food, it’s pretty difficult to completely escape from modern technology. We’ve gone too far. It’s too entwined in the foundations of our societies and our everyday lives.
TO SUM UP
It’s definitely good to have regular breaks and escape to nature whenever you can, and it’s something I’ll incorporate more often. But the reality is that these modern technologies can also be very useful. They can make life more convenient, make it easier to communicate and gain knowledge, and they provide enjoyment.
But if we’re not careful, they can also enslave us. They can control our lives, rather than aid them. So be careful. Take a break. Disconnect now and again. Connect with people in real life. Simplify and enjoy.
Thanks for reading!
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