As a fully online college student, a millennial, and someone that lives a thousand miles away from most of their friends and family, I spend A TON of time connected to a device of some sort. When so much of your life revolves around technology, it’s easy to become completely absorbed without even realizing it.
I try REALLY hard to be mindful of my technology use, but I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. I’m not one of those people that can go renounce Facebook or completely abandon the Internet altogether, like TED Talker Paul Miller did for a year. He even states that “leaving the internet isn’t going to fix our problems.” So, what is the answer? How can we make our digital mindfulness long term, and not just a temporary anti-internet binge that fizzles out by the end of the week?
I don’t think there is one right answer. Everyone uses technology at various levels and for varied purposes, so how they choose to be mindful is going to look different. What’s important is that we keep that awareness.
For me, I try to work on being present in conversations. I hit a point where I started to become irritated with my roommates. It seemed like every time I tried to tell them something, all I got was a half nod, as they were totally engrossed with the screen in front of them. I didn’t stay mad for too long, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was often doing the same thing when they tried to talk to me. Now, when someone is talking to me, I make sure my phone is in my pocket, purse, or another room if I must.
The one thing I want to get across here, is by no means am I cured. I still have moments where I catch myself on my phone while a friend is telling me a story. However, instead of taking the path of least resistance, I make a point to put my phone away. That right there is what I think the heart of digital mindfulness is. To say we will never use a certain technology or never engage in a certain behavior is unrealistic. A perfect record is not digital mindfulness. Digital mindfulness is recognizing when you engage in these behaviors, and making a choice about what to do.