Mindfulness

Technology is a constant. It is always on, always demanding that we pay attention.

This week’s focus is on mindfulness. How much do I pay attention to what I am doing online? How does it impact my relationships? How does the amount of time I spend online affect the state of my house?

ecard cleaning

A year offline, what I have learned

Paul Miller gave a TED Talk where he described his year without the internet.  He gave up texting and the internet and decided to focus on the things that mattered to him. Two questions that led him to his decision were,

  • How does the internet use me, and how do I use the internet?
  • At what point are my decisions and goals dictating my behavior on the internet, and at what point are the apps and the people and the processes … dictating and changing my behavior?”

These are great questions. Since we are the ones who navigate, we think that we are the ones dictating what happens. But wait, if that we true, then sites would not have trackers to see where we have been and what they can offer us.  Am I choosing what to do, or is another influencing my decisions?

In his quest to leave the internet behind, Paul soon found that he experienced complete freedom, and complete, excruciating, boredom. This allowed him to try to fill his time and he found that his solitude led to creativity, less drain led to emotional availability, and face-to-face conversations with friends and family led to improved relationships.

Conversation: 6/365

Photo CC – by Todd Fong

He also found that he spent the whole year on himself. Leaving the internet did not fix his problems. So he decided that he wanted to spend time focusing on others, caring for them. He had to find a balance. Find where the priority was and focus on that.

So Paul Miller did. He spent time with family, posted what he did on the internet, and found that he was able to choose to focus on others.

Social Experiment

One school in San Francisco asked their students to leave their devices and the internet behind for three days. The teachers did not actually expect kids to keep away from technology for three days, but they did want kids to become more cognizant of how technology intruded on other areas of student’s lives that they were unaware of.

So, what happens when teens try to disconnect from technology for three days?

They lived through it, though some did cheat and go back to their devices a little early. The students did see a difference in how they spent their time. Homework that used to take 5 hours a night, now only took 1½ without the distraction of the internet. Since answers to questions could not be Googled, students had to ask their parents for help. This led to kids having conversations with their parents.

Family Portrait

Photo CC – by Bo Gordy-Stith

How do I become more mindful?

In both situations the individuals went back to using technology on a daily basis. They hopefully were more aware of what they were doing online, and made an effort to say emotionally connected to people.

I don’t necessarily want to go on an internet fast, but I do want to be mindful of how I am spending my time. I want to make sure that, like Paul Miller, I have goals and decisions that are dictating my behavior on the internet. I do not want the internet to dictate to me what my goals and decisions should consist of.

In an article called Simplify the Internet the author makes the point that simplifying is about making choices about what will I share, and what am I willing to let go of. It is all about choices. Some great tips are presented to simplify use of social media, reading online, and email.

. . .

Am I accomplishing the things I want to when I search on the internet, or am I just being distracted by it?

It’s is time to think about mindfulness. And the state of my house.

ecard pinning

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4 thoughts on “Mindfulness

  1. This week’s lesson really made me think about how much I use technology and if I really used technology mindful. I realize that I don’t always use technology mindfully because I am on facebook a lot when I should be using that time doing homework. I am proud of myself though because I realized my twitter is only used for this class. I like your question if you are using the internet to accomplish what you are looking for or if you are just distracted by it. What did you learn about yourself using technology this week?

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  2. Thanks for asking, I realized later I did not address that in my post. I think I do a good job with using the internet for school purposes. By the time I have put hours into my classes using the computer, I have no desire to play games or surf the internet. I look at the news in the morning (we don’t have television so I have to use the computer) and check email.
    Where I do terrible is when I just want to fill time between school work and making dinner. That is when I spend the most time on Pinterest. Pinterest is my downfall! I have a friend that only allows herself to spend one hour, one day a week, on Pinterest. I do not have that kind of self discipline. There is a lot of info I collect about my hobbies (gardening and chickens) and about the grade level I want to teach. I have lots of recipes and cleaning tips I use from the things I have pinned, so I don’t use Pinterest only to play around.
    Thanks, Kayla!

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  3. I’ve read / seen a few different examples of people “quitting” the Internet for extended periods of time, and a common thread in all of them has been that the person’s problems that they believe were caused by the Internet remained unsolved. Quitting an “addiction” isn’t really solving a problem, because it doesn’t analyze where the addiction arose from. I wonder sometimes if I’m too dependent on technology, I’m a video game freak, but when we go on vacation and I have almost no access to tech over the course of a week or two, I don’t flip, and I don’t feel compelled to find a way to check my sites. I think I can take some small solace in that.

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  4. I agree, Jeff. Leaving the internet behind is not going to deal with the root of the problem, because often the internet is just a way to try to patch the problem. The heart of the issue still needs to be addressed. Like you said, this is true of any addiction. I think that all of us have to analyze our time spent online and the healthy balance between online and offline will be different for everyone. It sounds like you have been thinking a lot about what that balance is for you!

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