August 23, 2017

Switching Off

Technology doesn’t always lead to a simpler life. Learning to let it go can be just as rewarding.

When I think of relaxing, my brain cycles through a very familiar set of activities. I could play a video game, watch some videos online, or listen to music. Until recently, I hadn’t thought about how every option is tied in with technology. What would it be like to change that?

As a society, we’ve accepted that we struggle to put technology down. Be it our phones, our laptops, or our TVs, we can’t seem to get enough of them. I’m the same—I sometimes notice myself going from one device to another, as if a change of screen will help me relax more. So many apps play sounds of nature or calming music to help us wind down, but none of them help alleviate the reliance on technology we’ve developed.

A few months ago, I found myself reading through social media because I was bored. For the first time, I found myself questioning why I was doing what I was doing. Why was I constantly checking on other people’s lives? Why couldn’t I find something to do that didn’t involve a screen?

I had shelves full of books I’d never gotten round to reading. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone for a walk outside. There were places I wanted to see and things I wanted to experience—why was I denying myself these opportunities?

The most difficult thing to do with technology is to turn it off—even briefly. We all like to think we can—after all, it’s made our lives simpler, right? Not completely. It’s so easy to fall into a routine of devices. Watching TV, checking your phone, gaming, and checking your phone again.

Breaking such an ingrained routine takes a lot of effort, but it’s more than worth it. There’s an immense feeling of freedom that comes from taking some time to step out of the world of backlit screens. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Go outside and listen to nature. Talk to the people around you.

Technology is as much a curse as it is a blessing. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is switch it off for a while.

Published by Matthew Shaw in Lifestyle

Photography by Carl MH Barenbrug

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Rest & Restraint

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