Unplug, Tune In, and Relax into Your Surroundings
Kitty J. Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP
Certified Life Strategies & Stress Management Coach
Social media has become a major drain on our time. Indeed, I actually believe that “social media” is a little of an oxymoron given how it is being used these days by so many of us. While we find ourselves more and more tuned in to the latest postings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we are becoming less and less engaged in what is happening around us. I am just as guilty as the next person, so I am not being critical. I am just making an observation.
It seems to me, however, that while we are totally engaged with our hundreds of “friends” and followers, we are increasingly less engaged with those closest to us. I have observed couples in restaurants, for example, each entranced with the latest message on their iPhone or Android while completely ignoring their partner who is sitting just across the table from them. Similarly, I have observed young people so engrossed in their games or music or whatever it is they are paying attention to on their handheld device that they are totally unaware of their surroundings. Table conversation, seemingly, has gone the way of the dinosaur.
I am not suggesting that we should all chuck our iPhones and tablets, but I am suggesting that need to pay attention to the possibility that we are making our long distance connections more important and more urgent than our closest relationships. The nights when a family can all get together and sit at one table together, whether it be at home or even in a restaurant, become fewer and fewer as children get older and outside activities take precedence over family time. That is time that can never be retrieved. I think it would be truly tragic if we let our electronic devices take precedence over our human relationships.
So, what I propose is that you consider your own habits and attitudes regarding your use of social media. Are you constantly posting and/or checking the latest updates? Are you guilty of letting your interest in social media take over your ability to actually enjoy your life and your relationships in the moment?
I suggest that we would all benefit from taking a little “time out” each day. I am not suggesting that we need to eliminate Facebook from our lives or that we should all suddenly decide to never tweet again. What I am suggesting is that it might be helpful if we set the phones and tablets aside during family times even if it is only for 30 minutes a day. Actually check in with your teenager about how things are going instead of sneaking a peek at her Facebook status. Talk to your husband or wife about what’s happening at work instead of posting how lousy your day was for the entire world to see.
Here is a hint, and I don’t think I am speaking just for myself here…I may love you or just like you a lot…you are my Facebook Friend, after all…but I really don’t care what you ate for lunch, or that you just dropped off a load of laundry at the cleaners, or that you are going to the doctor to have that boil lanced…not unless, of course, it is a life threatening boil…then I am going to care a lot. But really, think about the last possibly inane thing you posted or you read that someone else posted and consider…on your last day on this planet, is that going to be information you needed or time well spent? If the answer is “no,” than I think you know what you need to do. Unplug, tune in to the real life relationships and the people who are around you who may need your attention in the here and now and take a deep breath while you are doing it. I think you will find that unplugging even for a few minutes a day while you tune in to your family and friends who are physically present will be a positive thing. And oh yes…don’t forget to take the time that you are unplugged to relax a little, too. I believe you will reap huge benefits. At least give it a try. You might be surprised by your findings.