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Look around at the world today — or even just at your own living room — and you’ll see that high-tech gadgets of every imaginable sort are to be found in just about every nook or cranny. Society has gone tech-mad, and more or less all of us are, today, the proud owners of devices that our grandparents couldn’t even have dreamed of when they were our age.
Of course, much of this technology comes with substantial benefits. For the first time in human history, we can see and communicate with relatives on distant continents, as if they were standing right before us, for example.
We can also find things like a Windows 10 pro product key in mere minutes, or rediscover a favourite childhood book via a quick Google search.
For all those benefits, though, there are undoubtedly some real downsides, not least of all growing social alienation and the inability to focus on long-form content.
It’s pretty clear that to maintain our wellbeing in the modern world, we all need to strike a delicate balance between high-tech gadgets and more traditional, low-tech ways of doing things. Here are some suggestions on how to achieve that balance.
Use programs and tools that enhance your ability to communicate — but be careful to avoid falling into the bottomless social media abyss
The ability to communicate with people in order to make plans, share urgent news, and arrange face-to-face social meetings, is to be highly valued. But the artificial social world provided by social media platforms is something to be very sceptical of.
Various researchers have found that people who spend more time on social media services like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are at a much higher risk of conditions such as chronic anxiety and depression, while simultaneously being more stressed, and more narcissistic.
It seems like social media platforms are inherently built to be psychologically manipulative and addictive, as noted by Adam Alter in his book “Irresistible”. They also promote constantly image awareness and competition.
For the sake of your own wellbeing, it’s best that you severely limit social media’s role in your life, and communicate via less all-encompassing programs.
Consider journaling and planning your life in a paper notebook — quality over quantity
Researchers have found evidence that when people write things down on paper, they remember the information significantly better than they would if they had typed it out instead.
In a world where we all typically spend so much time at the computer for work and relaxation alike, taking up a journaling practice in a paper notebook can be deeply therapeutic. It forces you to slow down, focus your thoughts, and engage in more deliberate reflection.
In recent times, Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal system has grown massively in popularity, and allows for easy life-planning, task management, and reflection, in a low-tech format.
You won’t be able to record as much information when journaling as you would when typing, but it’s about quality, not just quantity.
Strike the right balance in your choice of entertainment — high-tech entertainment is more visceral and exciting, but books and board games develop the imagination and promote deep thinking
One of the things that has happened as technology in general has grown by leaps and bounds, is that television, film, and videogames are now more vivid, visually engaging, and prominent than ever before.
And it looks as though this is just the tip of the iceberg. With burgeoning developments in Virtual Reality technology, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think that these media forms are only going to become more addictive and stimulating.
There’s nothing wrong with playing an occasional videogame, watching a bit of TV, blasting your music loud, or going to the cinema from time to time. But overdoing it may be a bad idea.
In his book, “The Shallows”, author Nicholas Carr outlines evidence that these hyper-stimulating media, not to mention the “shallow” but broad information network we call the internet, literally change the structures of our brains to make us more distracted and impulsive, and less capable of sustained, deep thought.
The solution? Spend less time using high tech media as your go-to form of entertainment. Spend more time doing things that engage the imagination and require focused attention, such as reading books, playing board games with friends and family, creating your own art, and so on.
You can also use apps such as RescueTime for your computer, and Moment for your iPhone, to keep you from spending too much time surfing the web each day.