What? Connection through disconnection? How can we connect if it’s through disconnection?
It seems we’re connecting in a new way these days. Rather than in person, eye-to-eye, we ‘re connecting online, in text, through Face Time, Skype, and social media, etc.
We’re connecting in a disconnecting kinda way.
Times have changed, relationships are not so touchy feely these days, but rather worked through some type of technology, rather than with the human touch.
This is not to say it’s a bad thing, as surely it’s not. It’s amazing to talk to relatives in Italy on Facebook, and see classmates from high school, and message them in a nanosecond. But, it’s a new world from the way we connected before. It’s never been so easy to unite with just about anybody you’ve known in the course of your life with social media, and at the same time, it’s never been so lonely.
I attended a fabulous two-hour symposium with professors from the university where I teach courses such as: psychology, motivation through leadership, critical thinking, capstone, etc. One presenter discussed the disconnection in the digital world, which got me to thinking about how we communicate so differently today, through our devices, unlike earlier times in person.
The symposium was held online through WebEx, where we all met from different parts of the country. Amazing. But it brought home the fact that more and more we are in disconnection mode to connect.
I fondly recall the days we gathered together in a forum on campus. We exchanged pleasantries, shared a meal, played games, and learned new concepts and teaching modalities.
Times have changed indeed.
Though I love the fact I was able to attend online, without driving or getting dressed up, it also made my mind wander…as it often does…to the fact that just about everything we do today is through our smart phones, ipads, lap tops and pc’s.
For many of us we are staring at a screen more hours than not. How is this impacting us? I can tell you first-hand, I’m staring at a screen for ten hours at work taking digital notes with patients, and then at home, in the early mornings and late evenings, writing blogs, books, and teaching students. I’m totally connected by disconnection. Are you?
Our bodies are feeling the impact physically, not to mention our social interaction is lacking. Introverts seem to fair better, but extroverts not so much. They are lonely.
Even dating is through Apps and websites…again—a disconnect to connect.
The positive is we can meet people from all venues from anywhere through these devices. The negative is we’re not connecting in person. Studies are showing people are experiencing more depression based on loneliness and isolation working remotely as well as connection via various devices.
Spending time with our digital devices effects:
• Sleep pattern. Studies show electronics may stimulate you before bed. Did you know ninety percent of people in the United States admit to using a technological device during the hour before hitting the sack? And did you know kids and teens use electronic media to help them relax—and adults do too? It’s not only the brain stimulation that can cause agitation, but also the light exposure is known to negatively impact sleep time, sleep quality, and even daytime alertness.
• Poor eating habits. It’s easier to grab snacky foods while engaged on our devices than to stop all entertainment and sit at a table to eat. Why? Well, we get bored to only engage in one activity. Today we are multi-tasking rather than sitting in the moment engaged with our food. Eating distracted leads to overeating and/or choosing poor quality foods, because they’re just easier to grab.
• Stress. People who spend too much time online are at risk of depression and other mental illnesses. Kids are addicted to gaming leading to little sleep, and over stimulation. Spending long hours on your device of choice can disrupt the nervous system from over stimulation, and cause the brain to be in a state of chronic stress.
• Joint aches. Sitting hunched over looking at a screen can lead to back pain and joint issues. It’s not uncommon to suffer from shoulder pain caused by the muscles and tendons between neck and wrist being held tensed in one posture for long periods.
• Withdrawn. Working online in isolation can be a lonely job due to lack of social interaction. Social withdrawal and social isolation can make it difficult to do the things you normally would enjoy, or to get through the day as you become more withdrawn
• Poor posture. Again we rarely sit upright when we are engaged on the computer or playing with our Smart Phones. It’s a hunched over position we find ourselves in as we extend our necks out to see the screen. It can also lead to wrist and finger joint pain…and carpal tunnel.
• Sit too much. Sitting too long can lead to varicose veins, or spider veins, though it may not be harmful it’s not delightful to look at when your wearing shorts or swimsuits. In rare cases, sitting too long can lead to more serious conditions like blood clots.
• Less Family connection. When engaged online it’s hard to pull the self away from the social media drama and join the family for dinner to engage in actual conversation. It’s not uncommon to have family members wiggly at the table because they’re anxious to return to their devices for fear they may be missing out on something.
• Less social interaction. Time alone without interacting with others can be a lonely endeavor. People do need people.
• Depression. And of course working remotely or spending too much time in isolation can lead to depressed moods. Detaching from others is not natural. One way to work through this is to try working a few hours in a local restaurant, or coffee shop where you can “plug in” and still be around the hustle and bustle of people.
I’m a writer. I’m a professor. And I’m a clinical psychotherapist—most of which is staring at a screen. The most interaction, which I love, is with my patients one-on-one—eye contact and seeing and feeling their expressions of woe and glee.
And guess what,? The therapy world, and medical as well, is going online too! Sessions are held in a Face Time/Skype manner, and private on-line programs, which are popping up on the Internet in large numbers All good, but again, it’s another disconnect.
As a clinical psychotherapist/addiction psychologist, onsite and online, professor on/site and online, and writer totally online I can say there’s good and bad in both venues.We writers work alone and spend great amounts of time in our head. Too much internal thinking can lead to agita, angst, and unease. And did I mention our eyes? Staring at the screen we blink less, which can lead to dry eye and other eye complications.
Okay, enough…sounds dismal doesn’t it? Yes, but technology is not going away, and we are getting more and more dependent on it. What are we to do?
So the answer is to get out and interact every day in some way. It can be simply going to the grocery store, taking a walk, seeing a movie at the theater, getting a bite to eat at your local restaurant. We can pick up the phone and talk to our loved ones, friends, and family, rather than text, giving our fingers and eyes a rest, and hear actual voices and moods.
It’s wonderful to connect with people from both online and onsite, but…the real, “hands-on” connection will always be my preference. What about you?
What do you think about the new world of disconnect we live in? Do you wish to unplug and connect in human faced-to-face interaction? What are the pros and cons from your view? Inquiry minds want to know? Share—let’s connect.
Stay tuned… you never know where my mind will wander off to next….
Hugs to you—I care!
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Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.