There is nothing more important online than the person standing in front of you!!
My recent trip to Cuba made me realise a lot about the world we are living in. Cuba has no wifi and very expensive and limited internet access forcing me to "switch off". I could not access their mobile network either because Telstra does not have an agreement with the Cuban Telco. I absolutely fell in love with the simplicity of Cuba.
I truly loved it.
The streets are alive in Cuba. Children play in the streets, balls being kicked around everywhere, neighbours chatting to each other, people kissing each other, everyone was smiling and HAPPY!
I was jealous and for the first time in my life I felt immense feelings of loneliness and I wanted to be part of it.
A sense of belongingness.
At that moment it dawned on me how people get addicted to online communities. I could never figure it out until that moment because I'm a super social person, always have been. I have a very healthy social life and have many friends around the world. Hence why I'm not online much outside work, I'm too busy living my life.
But what about the people who aren't like me? Who don't have many friends? Who need that sense of belongingness. Online communities make socially inept people feel like they are part of something. In the virtual world they can be whoever they choose, an amazing adventurer, a sexy vixen, a know all on photography, an online superstar. All this plus more whilst sitting in front of their computer rarely leaving the house. (At the time of writing this came to surface about The Whole Pantry founder Belle Gibson)
I was always an early adopter and although I still am to some extent I'm finding myself turning away from technology more and more. I'm also finding more and more of my friends seem to have their smart phones permanently attached to their hand. Maybe its because I work in social media that I can "switch off" so easily, but then I think no, it not that, its simply I enjoy my friends company much more than the company of the internet.
We are now living in a world where mass online followers are seemingly more important than a handful of real friends and communicating through apps and social sites takes priority over speaking to people in real life.
The virtual world is taking over our real world at a rapid pace.
The more technology we are developing the more miserable and depressed people are becoming. FOMO and jealousy are affecting everyone, everywhere.
Everything is out of balance and I feel we need to take a few steps back and start valuing our real time more than our online time.
So here are my top tips for social balance.
- Turn off push notifications
I’ve never had push notifications switched on. I find them annoying and distracting, which they are. There is nothing worse and more rude than someone at a store serving you or a waiter trying to take your order whilst you are madly replying to whoever tweeted, snapchatted or messaged you. Also turn your volume down and vibration alert off so you give all of our attention to the person in front of you.
So turn them off and enjoy the serenity.
- When out to dinner or out socialising, keep your phone in your pocket/bag
This is a big one for me*. I was recently out at a dinner and everyone was on their phone, I catch up with a friend whilst overseas and they spent their entire time on the phone. You’re out catching up with friends to spend quality time with them. You can chat to people via messaging or social media any time, they will always be there.
So put the phone down and have real conversations with your mates.
*Ok I'll admit I do take my phone out but thats simply to take a snap it immediately goes back in my bag. So food porn it, then put it away!
- Keep your phone at home when out exercising
I know this can be very difficult for many people who use their phones to listen to music, if this is the case, buy an iPod, its much healthier. I'm a morning walker, always have been. I love getting out and listening to the natural sounds around me, it helps me think and clear my head. Its my me time. I also love saying "g'morning" to the strangers I pass, it brightens my day. Exercising is the perfect way to have a break from your devices too. Over the years I seen more and more people carry their phones with them and less and less saying "g'morning". Nowadays everyone is taking selfies, texting, or talking on the phones. Today on my morning walk we spotted a guy taking a selfie of his arm muscles, he looked ridiculous!
So leave the phone at home and start saying "g'morning"!
- Keep your phone/device out of the bedroom
Another big one for me. Bedrooms are for sleep and sex*. I have never had a computer or TV in my bedroom. Its also been proven time and time again that screens in bedrooms are not good for sleep patterns and definitely a no-go for insomniacs and people who suffer sleep apnea. I'm one of those rare luck people who has no need for an alarm clock. My body naturally wakes up at the time I need it to. So if you use your device as an alarm, buy an alarm clock. I tested this theory out recently, I spent one week with my phone next to the bed. It was the worst week of sleep ever, I was tossing and turning, waking up in the middle of the night rising too early. Not having your device in the bedroom allows your body calm down from the days stresses so you can fall asleep naturally, wake up naturally. An added bonus is you get to spend more quality time with your partner.
*Many many years ago I walked out on a guy because he started replying to text messages when we were gettin' jiggy with it. True Story!!
It can be quite daunting to not check your phone ever 5 minutes, as well as leaving it behind at home. But just a those little habit changes can make the world of difference.
Plus the more you "switch off" the easier it gets.
Go ahead and try it and see the difference it makes to your life.