Switching off - disconnecting from technology & social media

We live in a world where we are constantly connected to technology and the Internet. Our lives can be available for all to see through the use of social media sites. It can be all too common for these digital interactions and footprints to cause arguments, difficulties and put strains on our relationships. Technology and the Internet have changed how we view, value and understand ourselves.

So, how does one go about disconnecting from this digital world and reconnecting with an inner-self? This article aims to look at our ever-increasing dependence on technology; the impact it has on our relationships and on our sense of self and our identities, as well as some tips on how to disconnect from technology and the benefits of doing so.

Our dependence on technology

There is a great deal of literature on the dangers of addictions to the Internet, from pornography, overuse of social media to just spending too much time online. We have all experienced the powerful allure of the Internet in times when we should be studying or working. In many ways the Internet has become the most powerful tool for procrastination of our age.

Of course, the Internet and advances in technologies, have allowed us to develop, grow and expand in ways that would seem unimaginable 10 years ago. However, it begs the questions: have we lost something along the way? Are we too dependent on technology?

Impact on relationships

The true cost of addiction to technology and social media is the impact and damage it has on our interactions and relationships. Social media allows us to be close and connected to people in far away locations, we can talk to them any time, day or night, we can see them on a screen or comment on their pictures. All these digital interactions do mean something, but the difference is, that these kinds of interactions do not compare to real human contact, and the difference between contact in the real world and in cyberspace is massive. Issues arise when we find ourselves substituting the digital connections we have for those in the real world. Becoming lost and confused between real relationships, and those we have formed online.

Impact on our sense of self

Our sense of self and our identities play a vital role in who we are and the direction our lives take. Over the last decade technology and social media has greatly changed the way we interact, develop and maintain relationships with our families, friends and neighbours. It is not difficult to see how our sense of self and how we view ourselves is being dramatically changed more so than those of previous generations.

The explosion of social media and technology into our lives has shaped our daily communications and interactions with others, and sometimes causing arguments or a loss of trust. Comments and opinions that are hurtful can be left in the digital world, often being seen by more people than we would like.

How to disconnect from technology

In a world in which it is easy to stay almost constantly connected to technology and social media, how does one go about disconnecting from? Below are some possible tips to assist you in this process.

- Unplug

  • Unplug your wireless router or cable.
  • Switch off your phone or turn off the data function.
  • Start with half an hour and work up to doing this for as long as you can.
  • Alternate the times in which you are connected and disconnected so there is a balance.

- Set a disconnection time each day

  • Make a time in the day where you will be offline.
  • Tell people you will not be available.
  • Be strict with yourself.
  • Stick to the routine.

- Spend time somewhere without a connection

  • Leave your phone/laptop/tablet at home.
  • Find a quiet space with no connection.
  • Allow yourself time to be at peace.
  • Enjoy the space to think, feel or create.
  • Go for a walk on your own or with a friend/spouse.
  • Recharge your batteries.
  • Give back to yourself.

- Disconnect away from work

  • Find a time after work each day to concentrate on relationships, or hobbies and interests.
  • Use time off to escape the habit of aimlessly browsing the Internet.
  • Ask your partner/friends to assist you.
  • Ask yourself ‘Do I really need my phone/tablet or laptop?’.

- Practice basic meditation

  • Make it formal and set a specific time and place to practice.
  • Start with noticing your breathing – breathing deeply slows your heart rate and relaxes your muscles.
  • Notice and acknowledge frustration and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Seek to generate moments of awareness during the day and be present.

The benefits of disconnecting

The vast reach technology and social media has on our lives makes it difficult to see the possible benefits of disconnecting. However there is much to be gained. Such as:

  • Escaping distractions and interruptions.
  • Finding space and time to focus on your self.
  • Developing more ability to create and pursue activities you enjoy.
  • Making deeper connections with others.
  • Engaging in meaningful discussions.
  • Time to read books or write.
  • A break from the pressures responding to emails or calls immediately.
  • Developing a deeper understanding of yourself.
  • Space for reflection.

A life less connected to technology

Used appropriately, technology and social media can be helpful, and as long as we are able to see the connections and experiences we form online for what they are, there is nothing to say that technology cannot connect us to those people who we would not be able to contact otherwise.

However, the increase in technology, and use and popularity of social media sites, may be beginning to alter and damage our real life relationships with others, and could be shaping our self identify in ways in which we are unaware. We may feel that technology and social media allow us to be more open and engaging, and to develop meaningful connections, but perversely, these connections can often lead us to feel less connected to others and to the real world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London N6 & NW5
Written by Joshua Miles, BA, MSc, BPC, BACP Accredited Psychodynamic Psychotherapist
London N6 & NW5

Joshua is an experienced Bereavement Counsellor Therapist with particular expertise working with sudden or abrupt loss. He has helped many people work through the pain of their loss. Joshua also has experience of working with a wide range of issues such as loneliness, isolation, depression, relationship difficulties and anxiety.

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