I recently received a copy of Dr. Larry Rosen's iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us in the mail. I'd been eager to read the book with the hope of uncovering how to better cope with my own technology obsession. I've always loved technology. I can remember the day my parents bought me my first laptop and how thrilled I was with it. I spent hours and hours playing with fonts, experimenting with clipart, and drafting stories.
As the years went on, technology became my go-to when it came to indulgences. With each new technology purchase, I felt a rush of joy. Similar to how other girls react to the sight of diamonds and flowers, I feel swept off my feet by any sort of technology -- computers, cameras, e-readers, phones (which is probably why I've received so many of these things as "romantic" gifts over the years!). Bottom line: I. Love. Technology.
But, as with any (slightly obsessive) love, I struggle to find a balance between enjoying technology and allowing it to rule my life. On more than one occasion, I've questioned whether or not my technology-related habits were "normal." And just last week I received a card from my mom that said "Enough with the iPhone...It doesn't love you back." The fact that they even make cards like that says a lot about the general population and its use of technology. And the fact that my mom actually sent me that card certainly says a lot about me and my own love affair with technology.
Lucky for me I don't have to muddle this all over in my head -- I have Dr. Rosen's book to help me sort through whether my use of technology is a positive or negative thing. According to Rosen, it's all about balance and moderation. Of course it is. That's almost always the solution for any sort of overconsumption or overuse. But finding moderation when it comes to technology has never been easy for me -- and I assume I'm not alone in this.
The problem with technology, in my opinion, is that it's somewhat like having an issue with food. Unlike alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances, you cannot completely stop eating food if you have a problem with it. Likewise, it's very difficult to completely stop using technology. For someone like me, who does much better with abstaining than moderating (see Gretchen Rubin's Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator? quiz), moderating my technology use is nearly impossible.
The beauty of Dr. Rosen's book is that it provides readers like me with strategies and tactics to help them avoid iDisorders (such as narcissism, technology addiction, disconnectivity anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, social phobias, hypochondriasis, body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, and electronic voyeurism) without completely eliminating technology from their lives. In the book, Rosen helps readers understand how various iDisorders come to be and, more importantly, how to combat them if you find that they resonate with you or someone you love.
While reading the book, I was checking my Instagram and found that Hello Giggles had posted a photo of National Unplugging Day. When I realized that just the thought of a day without technology sent shivers of anxiety down my spine, I decided I had to give it a try. With Dr. Rosen's book in hand I faced the day without my TV, iPad, iPhone, or computer. If the thought of doing without technology caused me anxiety, you can only imagine what an actual day without it was like.
An entire 12 hours without technology was hard. Really hard. I feel ridiculous admitting that, but it was a struggle not to check my email or turn on the TV. Most of my routines, I found, involved technology in some way, which caused me to feel very out of sorts as I made my way through the day. But I got through it and found that as much as I wanted technology, I didn't need it. In his book, Dr. Rosen writes, "Think about spending time interacting with the people who are right in front of you rather than those who are elsewhere. It's all about being aware of and monitoring your behavior around all of these marvelous technological inventions."
A day without technology was just what I needed to remind me that what really matters are the people right in front of me -- not the people on my phone or computer. While I could never say technology is a negative force on my life, a day without it and the insights I gleaned from Dr. Rosen's book helped me realize it's not always positive. Technology itself isn't the issue -- it's what we choose to do with it.
If you spend a lot of time using technology and have wondered about the impact it might be having on your life (and your brain), I'd recommend checking out Dr. Rosen's book to learn more. And, at the very least, I'd recommend giving some thought to how much you use technology -- and whether or not your use of it has a positive or negative impact on your life.
Do you feel like technology is negative or positive?
How do you use technology in a positive way?