We currently live in a fast-paced world where news travels faster than at any time in human history. We are so connected to technology that we are afraid to be away from it for any length of time – for fear we might miss something important.
People everywhere are seen walking with their heads down, eyes glued to their smart phones or iPads. Distracted walkers have fallen into fountains, onto railroad tracks, and constantly walk into each other. Even drivers think they have to be connected, thus causing numerous traffic accidents.
When was the last time you went a day without checking your email, or Twitter account? It probably has been too long to remember. Don’t feel alone, it seems like most of the world is lost in the wonders of technology.
The problem with being this involved in technology and the world of the internet is the failure to connect with the real world. If we have no idea what is going on in the world around us, then how can we ever know of the inner world within us this is comprised of our thoughts and emotions? If we cannot look within ourselves, then we have to look someplace else for distractions. This is why we turn to technology to begin with – we aren’t aware, we cannot change, and we place ourselves at the mercy of our boredom.
If you are not grounded in the present then you will never understand the spiritual aspects that surround us. You must begin practicing self knowledge before you can develop your spirituality and see the beauty of the world around you.
- Technology Addicts
We all know someone who is constantly talking on the phone, or checking their email every few minutes. Some people feel withdrawal symptoms like mental and physical distress, panic, anxiety and confusion when away from these devices for too long. This anxiety even has its own name “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO), and it affects over half of all adults who use social media.
Teens send between 3000 to 4000 text messages every single month. This averages to one text about every 6 minutes. Some teens will even spend days playing video games.
Technology is very addicting because the developers have learned from famous behavioral psychology experiments that novelty is the best way to suck people in. We check our emails hoping for a nice letter. We answer our ringing phone because we are programmed to answer it. These things bring us pleasure akin to taking cocaine or heroin.
If these pleasures and rewards were more predictable we might get tired of them and ignore them. However, not knowing when the next reward is coming is what keeps us going back again and again.
All addictions are harmful to our spirituality. Addictions steal our inner peace and drain our psychic energy, while keeping us bound to the physical world. Addiction feeds desire in a vicious cycle.
- Technology Addiction Leads to Unhappiness
This online world is really a narcissistic place. People compete for the most friends or followers, or hope for the most likes on their pages. People online spend about 80% of their time talking about themselves. In real life we only do so about 40% of the time. This creates two types of unusual phenomenon.
* Some people create fake lives online, making themselves into likable online people. Instead of improving who they are, they create someone fake to impress others.
* This leads to disappointment, because when they compare their lives to others online (who have created their own fake online persona) they always fall short.
Research has shown that online usage can often lead to depression, envy and loneliness. If that isn’t bad enough, we can also suffer from “brain overload”. In essence, our brains can only handle so much information before we suffer from a “fight or flight” reaction. This overload may cause our brains to temporarily shut down positive reactions like empathy.
Fifteen and a half hours a day will soon be the average time people spend online. You would think that being connected to so many people would make us happier and more fulfilled. Actually, it appears the opposite is happening. Instead of learning about empathy, humility, selflessness and being happy for others, we are becoming a world of narcissists waiting for the approval of those around us.
- Your Brain on the Internet
Do you know that the internet functions the same way as your scattered mind? Websites offer links to further expand your knowledge, and before you know it you are lost in clicking these links to see where they will lead. Suddenly you have been on the computer for hours without getting done what you set out to do.
When you first start practicing meditation you will notice your thoughts skip around in this very same manner. You start off thinking about one thing and end up somewhere quite different.
The internet encourages us to have a scattered mind. We often have multiple tabs open and we constantly switch between them to check out what is happening elsewhere. We are so afraid of missing out on anything.
When we split our attention in this manner, we are actually training ourselves to be distracted. Try it the next time you sit down to meditate – it is extremely hard to hold your focus.
- Digital Detox
The spiritual repercussions for this technological generation are yet unknown; however, things are not looking all that great. With all the distractions available today, are there any people left who are willing to invest in exploring their own spirituality?
Those who are interested in spirituality should stay away from the internet and smartphones. Relying too much on these devices may lead to an inadequate development of the right brain, resulting in a decline in concentration and memory.
It is not too late to help those of you who would rather use technology consciously to help, and not be consumed and controlled by all of it. Consciously use it to find information related to spirituality, and then follow the advice of what you have read. Seek out information that will teach and enrich your life. Have the self-discipline to focus on one thing at a time before moving on.
If enough people would value spirituality more than they do distractions, then spirituality may have a chance in our super-connected society. Share this article with those who feel may need a gentle push. Spirituality will someday be the focus as more and more people pull the plugs.
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