As I mentioned last week, our consumption of media has grown exponentially and dangerously. We have become accustomed to constant stimulation whereby our brains never get a break. Or more accurately, we never take a recess from the constant stream of information. Some of us spend more time in front of a screen than in front of people. Young adults especially seem to have trouble communicating in the non-digital world. Not only do our brains need downtime to learn, process, and remember information, but we limit our ability to generate new, creative, and original ideas. We need a break! Dr. Thomas Cooper wrote a book titled: “Fast Media, Media Fast,” and suggests that we either completely unplug from all media, limit our media connections only to work and emergency issues, or consider selective elimination. He believes that we can experience more reflection, creativity, play, spirituality, family time, and relationships when we set limits on our media consumption. Personally I find my most creative thinking occurs when I’m out running alone or have quiet time without media distractions. The key to this process is balance.
I believe selective elimination works best and is more realistic. For example, set times when you don’t answer calls, texts, emails, and are not in front of a screen. Our family has decided to set dinner time as a gadget free slot. Other times might be in the car with others, on social outings or after a designated time at night, such as electronics off by 9pm. Provide undivided attention to your spouse when you are on a date. I’m sure you’ve seen couples at a restaurant where one person takes an outside call in the middle of the meal. What does that say to the other person? It certainly doesn’t instill a warm fuzzy feeling.
We need to learn and maintain better boundaries with people and our electronics. Much of our media exposure is an escape from reality or conflict possibly because we’re unable to face our fears or insecurities. Focus on communicating directly and not relying on electronic communication. We learn more, grow more, and experience greater connections through face to face interactions. Limit media and experience limitless connection.