Human connection is extremely important to who we are. It’s part of what makes our life experiences worthwhile, and unfortunately it’s something we’ve been losing in recent years due to our increased use of technology.
“While we need technology to survive in a modern social world, a severe overreliance on technology – or an addiction to certain facets of its use – can also be socially devastating”, according to Technology Addiction, an article published by FCD Prevention Works in 2017. The article goes on to note, “Tech dependence can lead to teen consequences that span from mild annoyance when away from technology to feelings of isolation, extreme anxiety, and depression.” But it’s not just teens who are vulnerable. The average American adult spends more than three hours engaging with his or her smartphone every day, this according to writer Mo Perry in a 2018 article he penned for Experience Life article titled, How to Break Free of Tech Addiction.
The Create Change leadership team has spent quite a bit of time discussing this issue in recent weeks. We understand that technology – in all its varied forms – serves a valuable purpose in our everyday lives. Hey, it’s how we’ve been able to build our Create Change community. But it also comes at a cost. As Tim Hartford said in a recent Financial Times article, My Digital Reboot, “One of the most important – and misunderstood – ideas in economics is that of opportunity cost. Everything we do is an implicit decision not to do something else.” Add up all the time you’ve spent on Twitter and that’s time you couldn’t spend with family and friends. If you spend an hour surfing the web, that’s an hour you can’t spend reading a bedtime story to your kids.
Our concern about the overuse of technology in our everyday lives has inspired us to take a break – and and we’d like you to join us. In an effort to recalibrate, we’re encouraging you to take a deep breath, step away and join us in the Create Change #OperationBlackout challenge.
Let’s all disconnect from social media at 12:00 AM, Saturday, February 16th to 12:00 AM, Sunday, February 17th (your local time) – and bonus points for those of you who can stay away for the entire weekend! We’ll use the time we normally would have spent on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or just general browsing of the web, and spend it doing something else. It doesn’t have to be anything special. It can be something as simple as having an uninterrupted meal with your family, coffee with a friend, volunteering with a community organization, reading a book, or going for a long walk. It can be anything that gets you to look up and take in the beauty that is literally all around you.
As part of the challenge, we’d like you to journal your experiences the following day (or at the end of the weekend), recapping your activities and your thoughts – good and bad – while being away from social media. Some things to consider when writing in your journal:
- How did you spend your time? What activities did you participate in?
- Did you sleep better?
- Did you feel disconnected from everyday people and events?
- Did you notice a difference in your interpersonal relationships with people? Were your conversations with others more reserved because you were offline and less aware of what was going on, or were they more in-depth and meaningful because you were less distracted?
- How was your mental health? Did your anxiety level increase due to withdrawal, or did it decrease the longer you were away from social media?
At the end of the weekend we’ll post an #OperationBlackout Forum, asking a few specific questions about your experiences during the challenge. We’d love it if you would answer these questions and then share some of your journal comments.
Please join us and rise to the #OperationBlackout challenge. We’re excited about the opportunities we’ll have to learn about ourselves and others, and hopefully we’ll all have some great stories to share at the end of the weekend!
Technology Addiction – March 16, 2017, by FCD Prevention Works (Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation)
How to Break Free of Tech Addiction, by Mo Perry, April 2018
My Digital Reboot, by Tim Hartford. 01/17/2019 Financial Times Article