The trap of technological distraction.
I am a big fan of all the great things technology has enabled us to do, and also what it has enabled us to not have to do. While many people are still working at jobs they ultimately would not have chosen, the implementation of computer programs and advanced machinery has freed many of us from hard physical labor and moved the workplace into more of a sedentary and techno-dominant realm.
This has been a sort of double-edged sword for humanity as a whole. The promise of being free of drudgery and monetary strife through technology has not been fulfilled; we are now forced to make money by adapting to a technological world. Those who do not adapt find themselves struggling.
There are varying degrees of thought on the role technology should play in our overall evolution. The most extreme example being the full merging of the human being with cybernetic interfacing, essentially creating a whole new species merging the human biology with technological "upgrades". This is referred to as transhumanism, the idea that technology is somehow the missing link and the key to providing something to us that is currently lacking. I want to be a voice that suggests that remembrance of our souls and our divine origin is actually the answer we are looking for.
What is basically happening is we are getting more and more drawn into our minds and virtual reality, and are less connected to our bodies and our physicality as well as our spirituality. We see kids that would rather spend time playing video games and chat on social media than go out and play baseball. More and more entrepreneurs essentially work almost exclusively through social media and other virtual means. I myself work in a few different ways from home, teaching ESL lessons overseas, providing counseling sessions, and working as a writer.
To counteract this tendency to be in front of a computer screen almost indefinitely, I have also incorporated working for small-scale organic farmers into my routine so that I can get some much needed outside time and connect with my body and with nature. Failing to do this feels like it leads me further down the path of technology addiction, which is something I have been thinking about a lot lately as I ponder our direction.
Finding a balance between productive useful work and entertainment online without going overboard is a dance on the razor's edge in today's world. Virtual entertainment seems so much more tempting and convenient than something as antiquated as walking in the park or watching a sunset. I recently tried a home virtual reality headset at the college where my wife works, and my initial reaction was, "This is the most fun thing I've ever tried, I better not use it again!"
I could feel my tendencies toward technological addiction kick it up a few notches as I placed the headset over my eyes. Right now I can simply move my head up and see beautiful mountains and a bright blue sky if I need a break from my laptop screen. The VR helmet created an immersive world where every bodily movement translated into a simulated experience; there was no break until I removed the headset.
Of course, the next logical steps would involve interactive chips placed in the body and brain that would allow people to interface mentally with their digital experience. This would be the technocratic consummation after years of foreplay. And I want to warn myself and anyone reading this to "just say no" to this possibility, should it ever come our way.
The key thing for our evolution right now is to find a healthy balance in all aspects of our lives. The rise in popularity of authentic, heartfelt spirituality is a natural counterpoint to the endless machinations that we see in the world today. We are being called inwards, back into the natural state of our own Being. Simultaneously we are having to navigate a complex world of relationships both in person and virtually, and make decisions on a daily basis that our ancestors could never have dreamed of.
As a counselor, I am constantly talking about a few key things with my clients. Meditation, healthy eating, and the importance of the natural world. To meditate is to unplug from all things virtual. It is to let go of the incessant need to be plugged into worlds that would vanish if there was ever a sustained power outage. It's getting back to our body, our breath, and our true creativity and intuition.
Technology and junk food seem to have found a comfortable relationship with one another, due to the instant stimulation and gratification they both provide to us. If we start eating healthier, we will also find ourselves having more sustained and balanced energy levels throughout the day. Refined sugars, caffeine, and processed foods, in general, provide that credit card type of experience; instant reward but a compounding debt.
When we're online most of the day, it's easy to reach for the quick and easy foods and drinks to help us keep going. Since we are living mostly in our minds anyway. we can trick ourselves into feeding the mind rather than the body. As we develop self-awareness we'll be more able to remain in touch with our actual bodily and nutritional needs even while using devices. We'll also know to take frequent breaks and nourish our bodies and spirits as well as our minds.
This last point can't be overemphasized, since for many people "nature" has become more of an abstract idea than a living reality. If we live in big cities, we can make a point to visit the most natural areas we can as frequently as we are able to. I myself am surrounded by nature but often find myself taking it for granted and focusing in on my screen and blocking out the bounty of life around me.
As with everything, balance remains the key. Slowing ourselves down and being more mindful of our bodies and what we actually feel will help us make more empowered choices and allow our minds and our technological devices to become helpful servants rather than seductive masters. As always, feel free to contact me to further explore this or any other topic that may be important to you.