Woman on computer
Photo: Thinkstock
It's easy to get wrapped up in the endless excitement of technology: sending work emails from the comfort of your own home, catching up with old friends through social networking and constantly texting on your cell phone—no matter where you are. But when do all these technological advancements become a means to avoid what's happening in your life, right here, right now? Madisyn Taylor shows you how to draw the line, unplug from your gadgets and get back to what matters.
Since technology has become more common in our workplaces and households, an interesting shift has taken place in the way we communicate with each other. Long gone are the days when families sat together for dinner, played board games in the evening or shared stories about their days in meaningful conversations. Today, we communicate or distract ourselves with cell phones, computers, PDAs (BlackBerrys), video games, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and the Internet. Everywhere we look—walking down the street, driving in a car, eating in a restaurant, going to the movies—people can't seem to let go of their gadgets.

How do you know if you are spending too much time with your gadgets?

Here are some signs:

  • You can't get through a meal without checking your email or texting.

  • You talk on your cell phone or text while driving.

  • You use your gadgets when you are alone or because you are bored.

  • You communicate with somebody using technology when they are under the same roof.

  • The thought of being without your cell phone or email for a day makes you nervous.

  • Having lots of Facebook friends makes you feel better about yourself.
If you recognize yourself in these statements, then you may be somebody who hides behind technology. Add up all the time you spend texting and using social media sites, and you will be surprised how the minutes add up to hours—hours you could have spent reading a book, taking a walk in nature or having a meaningful in-person conversation with someone.

How to have more meaningful exchanges with others

Madisyn Taylor
Photo: Courtesy of Madisyn Taylor
If we stop and examine what's really taking place, we will see there are a couple of situations at play. Some people hide behind technology and gadgets to subconsciously avoid living their lives. They may be so afraid of being alone, feeling left out of the loop and not being accepted that they will spend hours interacting with people online about unimportant things just to stay in the loop. For some people, the thought of being without their gadgets brings up a lot of anxiety because their lives have been built around connecting with people through technology. As with all things, technology is great in a balanced life. It's up to us how we want to spend our time and what type of relationships we want to have with our family, friends and acquaintances. When we hide behind our gadgets, we aren't giving our friends and loved ones the wholeness of who we are in a meaningful exchange.

People have become afraid of silence because when there is silence, it is the body and soul's natural instinct to reflect back on your life. The perfect antidote to not wanting to be in touch with your life is to distract yourself with your gadgets. It's easy to become lost in the gossip and mindless chatter that can easily become the norm, thereby numbing yourself and making you feel out of touch with your life.

If you are ready to tune back in to your life and engage with your friends and family in a meaningful way, try putting away your gadgets for a day. At first, you may feel panicked, and that's okay—just be with it. Since socializing with technology has become a habit, your mind will wander to your cell phone, computer or email throughout the day. Remember to catch yourself and have other activities to do so you don't pick up your gadgets. Think about just being with your silence. Maybe start a journal. If you need something to do, try to get out into nature, put on some music and dance, go for a walk or read. At the end of the day, notice of how you feel. You may feel less exhausted because you haven't been trying to keep up with everybody. You may feel more peaceful because you have spent time doing things you really love. Choosing to spend less time being in distraction and more time being engaged will allow your life to become full with possibility and potential.

Madisyn Taylor is the co-founder of the online website DailyOM.com and spends too much time on the Internet. She's also a best-selling author; her books include DailyOM Inspirational Thoughts for a Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling Day (Hay House 2008) and DailyOM Learning To Live (Hay House 2010).

More on Disconnecting from Your Technology
Get a lesson in technology etiquette
How to unplug from the chaos and recharge your life
Why you need to give yourself more time and space


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