how to get unstuck: 4 ways to stop standing still
positively present picks: my weekly favorites

is technology positive?:
a book review + a day of unplugging

 


 

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?  

Comments

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I struggle with this all the time! I am so dependent on technology in so many ways--since my family is far away, I rely on it to communicate with them. I'm also taking graduate classes online. It is really hard to unplug and cut out distractions when I'm trying to do homework online. Pinterest is just a click away, and I have a hard time resisting it.

If I did unplug for a day, I think my nook would have to be an exception. I wouldn't be able to think of much to do that isn't reading or working out. And what about iPods? I would need my iPod to work out, right? I could do without TV and Facebook, but those others are something to think about.

Mallory - I know just how you feel! I use technology for so many different aspects of my life that are positive -- work, communicating with friends, learning -- that it would be incredibly hard to disconnect for more time than I did. I feel like a nook is somewhat different because it's like a book...but then I guess the internet could be considered book-like in some cases. As Dr. Rosen said in the book, I don't think ridding our lives of technology is necessary (or even possible!), but it's important to think about how we use it and how often we use it.

I think technology is defiantly a positive, but it's all a matter of how you manage it in your life!

That's one of the big things I'm trying to balance out now that I'm working for myself. I'm no longer chained to a computer all day every day, so it's up to me how often I spend on/off it.

Although my job mostly requires me to be on the comp, I try to get offline & outdoors as much as possible! I'd probably go insane without my outdoor time.
I have a new thing where I take one whole day a week with no computer/no work. It's amazing, and it's keeping me creative, and helping me focus!

I've also ditched checking all the goss blogs & lame websites like that... Waste of my time & reading them doesn't improve anything in my life. So I guess I am trying to only use technology for positive things. Connecting with awesome creatives & hoping to inspire people with my blogging etc!

It's all about how you manage it.

Sian - It's definitely all about how you manage it. I really like the point you brought up about ditching the sites that are a good use of your time. It can be a hard thing to do, but it's a great way to focus on using technology for something good instead of wasting the tech time on sites that don't add any value. I'm going to take a look at all the sites I read and see if there are some that I could do without!

Thanks for your kind thoughts about my book. It truly is NOT about unplugging although you should be commended for 12 hours without technology. It is about learning how and when to reset your brain. Technology simply overloads our brains with amazing sensory information in multiple windows and devices. Taking just a little time away (and I mean 15 minutes every couple of hours may be enough) really helps reset your brain. The book has lots of similar simple techniques to help you not fall into an iDisorder. My favorite disorder is OCD and I must pat my pants pocket a dozen times a day just to make sure that my pacifier (i mean my iPhone) is still there.

Thanks again for enjoying the book
All best from gloomy San Diego,
LR

P.S. More info on me and my writing is at DrLarryRosen.com

Dr. Rosen - You're welcome! I really enjoyed the book and learned so much from it. I know just what you mean about checking for the iPhone... I'm never far from mine before wondering where it is! Thanks for sending over the book. It was a great read and I'm looking forward to checking out more on your site.

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