I currently live in West Hollywood and work in Santa Monica. Everyday before my commute, without fail, I open my Waze app on my iPhone, type in my destination, and tune out while I’m mindlessly guided through the city. I realized the other day, that if my phone magically disappeared and that familiar robotic voice stopped flatly resonating from my speakers, my mornings would look a little different! I’d have to find my own way and suffer through an endless stop and go bumper dance. It’s a scary thought—am I that attached to my gadget and disconnected from my intuition?
Our obsession with quick and constant access to technology is increasing dependency on our gadgets. We feel lost without instant convenience in our pockets at all times. While gadgets undoubtedly make life easier, the love is developing into addiction. Many of us favor the myriad capabilities of smartphones over real human interaction, or forget how to simply entertain ourselves. We answer emails, flip through Instagram, watch movies, play games on tablets, or read e-books in bed before falling asleep.
I am definitely guilty as charged, but I also made the choice to regularly detox from gadgets. Without a tech detox, I pummel through this world of wires and screens, of marketing and advertisements, and arrive at a peak of self-disconnection. Technology is a part of our evolution as deeply intelligent beings, and knowledge is constantly at our fingertips—a miraculous and beautiful thing, but it’s also changing the way we connect to our bodies, our souls, each other, and the natural world.
Not to mention, this isn’t only an unhealthy emotional attachment, but also a physically straining one. According to researchers, too many sleep regularly next to their smartphones or laptops in a restless slumber—the type of light produced by our electronic screens can contribute to sleep loss.
Surfing the web while trying to wind down at night causes cognitive arousal leading to the most common form of insomnia: when you simply cannot turn off your thoughts and anxieties enough to fall asleep. Even a smartphone on your bedside table emanates enough blue light to stimulate the brain and keep one awake.
The growing concern is that glowing gadgets may actually fool our brains into thinking it’s daytime. In recent years, studies have honed in on blue light radiating potently from the screens of smartphones and computers, as well as energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. Blue light is especially prominent in daylight; exposure keeps us alert and active because our bodies associate it with daytime. Blue light also has been shown to suppress melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep.
It’s a noisy, unfocused life with these tools that instantly connect us to anything at any moment. It’s too much. There’s no room for self-reflection, meaning, or meditation.
I was deeply struck by an episode of Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast featuring the poet, Marie Howe:
Marie Howe: “There’s a silence in the center of everything. We’re not familiar with silence anymore. We don’t know what to do with it. We used to be. It’s so recent really. That mechanisms have brought so much noise into our worlds. I used to love all of those old sci-fi books. How the robots and machines were going to take over. Just last week it occurred to me—well they have. It’s just different from what we expected.”
Krista Tippett: “So where do you find hope with this picture you have of our life with machines?”
Marie Howe: “I’m stumped. I mean, I’m concerned. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life engaging with these machines. It’s like sugar. We can’t stop.”
It’s like sugar. Yep. Technology is equally as addictive. We used to spend time together, engage with strangers on the subway, know our neighbors, have real conversation, make a true effort to keep people we love in our lives. Now, we live in an isolated world. A world of headphones and avoiding eye contact. This is why I cannot recommend enough detoxing from your gadgets as often as possible. Your friends’ Instagram posts will still be available to browse when you decide to return to gadget use, I promise. Do this for yourself! Be present.
Tips for a gadget detox:
- At least once a week, spend as much time as possible with your gadgets shut down or in a drawer.
- When you return to technology, try placing a tourmaline crystal on your computer or near your laptop, phone, or wi-fi, to protect yourself from EMFs.
- Avoid staring at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed and turn off your electronics before you fall asleep. Your sleeping self will thank you.·
- Meet up with a loved one and be fully present while spending time together.
- Embrace alone time. Read a novel or magazine. Create art. Pamper yourself.