Unplugging from Technological Chaos

This is my twenty-first post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Last sunrise before breaking camp!

U= Unplugging from Technological Chaos: I am often amazed at the amount of general noise that is present in modern life. It seems that almost every moment of my life is filled with electronic noise that seems to be constantly vying for my undivided attention. My iPhone is constantly alive with various buzzes, dings, and chirps (The ringtone of which I have changed to crickets, to make it a bit less raucous), which notifies me of the arrival of emails, Facebook, Twitter, or text messages. Television programs are interrupted every 10 minutes or so with loud and flashy commercials, which all seem to try and convince me that I am either inadequate and am in need of fixing, or that I need to spend more money, and more often than not a combination of the two, all the while seemingly trying to throw me into a light and sound bombardment induced seizure. ;)

Because of the noise saturation and general hectic pace of modern life, the chaos caused therefrom can seem to just be a natural part of modern life. However, there is increasing evidence that the fast paced and noise polluted environment of modern urban and suburban life, is actually damaging to our health. Several studies have shown that noise pollution can cause our stress hormones, and other stress induced physical responses such as heightened blood pressure, to increase dramatically. As the stress responses increase, we can become constantly anxious, nervous, distracted, and even depressed.

In short, the chaos caused by the constant buzz of technology, can cause us to be physically and mentally unhealthy.

I think the extent of noise pollution, and the almost instant relaxation associated with unplugging from the constant buzz, became clearer to me during and after my recent trip to Colorado, where the remoteness of our camp meant very limited cell phone service. At first, the lack of technological connectivity seemed very odd and almost eery. How on earth was I going to manage without being able to constantly keep tab of my social media accounts and my email listservs?!

After a few days of withdrawal, I began to thoroughly enjoy the sense of connectivity with life that is so often hard to achieve with the constant buzz of modern life. Mindfulness was no longer something I had to necessarily strive for, or constantly remind myself to re-engage with, because without technology, my morning coffee and breakfast were enjoyed without interruption, the crunch of snow beneath my feet, and the bite of a cold wind and snow was fully felt, and the smells, sights, and sounds of the mountains were fully experienced.

Coming back from my vacation I was instantly greeted with Facebook, blog, and Twitter pages, as well as email inboxes that had been sorely neglected of my undivided attention. The legal briefs and discovery that I hadn’t finished up before leaving on vacation had multiplied, and been joined by an overflowing physical mailbox, email inbox, and voicemail box.

While I have tried to do my best to dig through the pile, and I am admittedly still behind in replying to many of the wonderful comments from readers here, I am actually trying to limit my unnecessary exposure to technology, in order to spend more time simply enjoying life by living in the now, rather than living in technological chaos.

Pulling the plug from the technological chaos, has allowed me to retain some of the peace and serenity that I experienced from 10 days in nature, and I highly recommend that you give it a try.

Practical Tip: In order to facilitate unplugging from technological chaos, I have tried to implement the following four steps:

1) Turning the radio off during my morning commute. This has been the most difficult for me because I love BBC and NPR news, and I also love podcasts; however, radio silence in the morning and evening has really allowed me to have some wonderful quiet time to reflect, or simply “be”.

2) Wait to turn on my work computer until after I have finished my 1st cup of coffee. Rather than hitting the ground running, and ramping up my work computer as soon as I get to the office, allowing myself to drink a cup of coffee first really prepares me for the day ahead, and lets me develop a game plan for the day.

3) Turn off Facebook, twitter, and email notifications on my iPhone. This allows me to check-in on the social network world on my own terms, rather than being dinged or buzzed every 5 minutes.

4) Limit my internet surfing time. I have always been a news and blog addict, I love reading about what is going on in the world, as well as people’s perceptions of the world. However, this has led me to often spend hours at a time mindlessly surfing for new snippets of news and information, which obviously takes away from being present and living in the now.

I would love to see your thoughts and comments on what you have done, or plan to do, in order to unplug from technological chaos.  I would also love for you to share any thoughts or insights that come up.
Please come back next week for the next installment of this series, and as always if you enjoyed what you read, please share on social network sites, subscribe to this site, and share this site with others!

Also please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click on the book cover to view on Amazon.com)

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6 Responses

  1. Great wise words! Love Colorado. We usually head out to Fort Collins at least once ever other year. Great to meet you :) Mark

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve found that deep and prolonged silence is necessary for my own growth and well-being. Unplugging from all things electronic is part of that; moreover, I tend to seek moments of extended solitude. For instance, I have backpacked through parts of Colorado by myself–and spending several days in complete solitude is both a frightening and enlightening experience.

    We often fear silence. As Jason stated, when alone in the car, we often seek noise to fill the void. Now, what if that silence is something one cannot escape for days at a time? The most difficult part may not be the loneliness, but the confrontation one feels with the inner spirit.

    These are the times when we are most aware of our desires, needs, and inhibitions. Silence allows our souls to speak. It allows us time to heal, grow, confront our demons, and explore our mind’s innermost chambers.

  3. You nailed it Jason. If there is one element to describe the 21st century it would be distraction. The relentless onslaught and massive overdose of noise, flurry, news, updates, connections from every single electronic crevice available on planet earth. And the only way as you have listed is to make that conscious choice to stop and unplug. And regain some semblance of silence, order and blessed peace in our lives.
    We have a no tv rule in our home on weekdays but this evening my husband turned it on (just to check :D) after we put our son to bed. There was a movie called Invasion – aliens invading human bodies and taking over earth :D I admit it was gripping and I couldn’t stop eventhough a part of me was saying what are you benefitting from watching an alien takeover of earth and getting your heart racing? (sigh)
    I’m glad I came here now and this post cleared my head from all that flurry. Cultivating peace means cultivating discipline. Thank you and here’s to beautiful silence and quiet moments. Sharon

  4. Teri Karl says:

    I’m experiencing the same challenge. Good luck with your endeavors!

  5. misselletea says:

    Simple, yet very effective. Love it! I’m a self confessed Internet addict. Once a year I volunteer with a conservation charity and we are effectively cut off fromthe world. The serenity is good for my soul. When I come back I cant help but fall back into my original cycle, although it takes a while. I deefinitely appreciate the break though :) Great post.

  6. catiestewart says:

    Hi Jason, thank you for liking my posts – I like yours too! I haven’t written in a while (since summer) so I think I had better recommence shortly! Think I’m waiting until after the solstice – leaving behind all the prunings and shadows, to write about love and joy in the new celestial dawn! Blessings.

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