Am I using technology, or is technology using me? Although we are aware of how important it is to connect with ourselves and the world around us, it doesn’t seem easy to unplug. One of the crucial effects we deal with every day is: How does the digital medium affect our relationships? We do not need statistics. We do not need to look for scientific proof. The effect is immediately noticeable – whether desirable or undesirable. Every day, the mobile phone poses new challenges for partnerships and entire families, which even might end in conflict.
To become aware of one’s current behavior and choose more constructive behavioral patterns is central not only for us but also for living and working together with our loved ones, friends, and co-workers.
Switch on your brain before you switch off your mobile phone
Meanwhile, the symptoms are numerous and undisputed: Digital makes you nervous, addicted, confused, in the worst-case sick. The most common and widespread remedy seems to be ‘digital detox’ – the radical denial, from one extreme to the other. There is a considerable number of offers, and business is booming with it. But what do you do after the digital denial week, far away from your everyday life, when you are back in your familiar environment?
The fast-moving digital world may be crazy – but why should we let it drive us crazy? Here are a few suggestions on how you can positively impact yourself and your actions. Because if we can no longer do this on our own but need external support to do so, we are already moving in the unsafe zone.
Rely on yourself rather than your phone
Better than choosing this radical way would be to reflect: What questions do I ask myself whenever I use my mobile phone or other digital devices?
Those three self-check questions might make a difference and save you from becoming your mobile phone’s marionette:
- Navigator or autopilot: Do I use the mobile phone as an instrument, and am I in the driver’s seat, or does it use and steer me? Whenever you use it purposefully to find an answer, to get in touch with somebody in the same way you would by using any other tool or device, it is a means to an end, which means: you are at the steering wheel!
- No matter if I’m checking my emails, writing an SMS to a friend, updating the shopping list, or reading a Facebook message: My body language always radiates the same. While focusing on the screen, my connection to the rest of the world is limited. Whenever I shift my presence to my mobile phone and disconnect from the people around me, I might hurt them. In this case, a few simple, explanatory words might significantly ease the situation: “I’ll have a quick look to see how long it’s going to rain”. By that, I signal that the person next to me still has priority, that I am aware of shifting my attention, thus indicating “I’m still with you”.
- Whenever you charge your mobile phone batteries, you could also ask yourself: What about my batteries? Have I taken a conscious breath? Is my posture relaxed? Have I looked attentively and mindfully at something in the last few minutes? Have I turned to someone and listened?
Digital devices can enrich our lives if they are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. We cannot influence much in this global and profound process. But let’s focus on the ‘Circle of Influence’, as Steven Covey put it so well, on what we can influence directly, and remain masters of our lives and relationships. The mobile phone is meant to serve us in this.
If you would like to think out loud about this topic, please get in touch.