If you are feeling over-connected, overwhelmed, or unable to put down your internet connected devices, you might want to ask yourself, “What National Day is it?” If it happens to be the second Friday of March, you’ll be happy to know that “Today is National Day of Unplugging.” So, permit yourself to put down your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and unplug for a while. It’s worth it.
Pull the Plug on Information Overload
You can’t help yourself really, because most human beings are creatures of habit. As soon as you turn off your alarm after waking up, just like many other people with a smartphone, you may find yourself absentmindedly scrolling through your social media feed. Your day is not only filled with a full schedule of getting dressed, eating, school, or work but staying connected continuously online.
According to studies conducted on smartphone use, the average person is touching their smartphone a record 2,617 times a day. In just one day alone, you will continuously interrupt your day to make tweets, answer texts, groom for the perfect selfie, or scroll never-ending feeds like that found on Facebook.
The average adult will find themselves checking their phone for alerts and updates, anywhere from 30 to 80 times during their day. Not only is the constant connection to online via smart devices eating up our time, but it’s also wreaking havoc on our social skills, self-esteem, and health.
According to studies, spending too much time online social media and the internet has lead to people developing the following problems.
- Poorer social and communication skills.
- Increasing feelings of inadequacy and a sense of disconnect from others.
- Inability to read other’s emotions or correctly understand non-verbal cues.
- Lack of enough quality sleep.
- Addiction to being connected online.
If you needed a solution to push the pause button, and get disconnected, the National Day of Unplugging is the answer. Across the globe, millions of participants make an earnest effort to make it a priority, not to connect to the internet, and turn off nearly all electronic devices. The number of likes, tweets, and selfies snapped and uploaded manages to deflate for a whole day.
Unplugging from technology not only helps give your brain a break, but it also allows people to reconnect and reacquaint themselves with a slower, simpler existence. People can rekindle their sense of sanity, well-being, and relax more if only they looked up from their screens long enough to notice.
Health Benefits of Detoxing from Increasingly Toxic Technology
Unfortunately, despite the good intentions and hopeful ideas that spawned the creation of the internet, the platform didn’t solely stay a place where people could freely exchange ideas and information. The internet managed to enable some of the uglier sides of humanity, with the creation of the dark web, and the pitfalls of seemingly neverending social media posts.
Fear of missing out or FOMO is a real thing. When users who typically stay connected daily to their smartphones or other Internet-connected devices are unable to do so, they can suffer withdrawal effects that can seem as severe as drug addicts.
Too much time spent staring at the brightly lit screen of smartphones, tablets, and laptops can strain the eyes. Spending way too much time online can also be disruptive to healthy sleep cycles.
The average adult should try to get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. But, people who cannot unplug from staying current with their social media feed, answering emails, or playing games online could be suffering poor health over lack of sleep.
Experts recommend that to improve health, it is advised to turn off any mobile or tech devices at least an hour before bed. It is also helpful to avoid using a smartphone, computer, or another device in the bedroom. This way, your brain is programmed to focus on getting sleep. Your bedroom should ideally be a place to get rest, not stress over missing out on a tweet, text, or post update.
The Aftermath of the Smartphone: Online Addiction
According to professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, David Greenfield, hearing those alerts to emails, texts, or social media posts cause the brains to release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical transmitter that exists in the brain and is responsible for causing people to feel pleasure.
When staying connected to our smartphones and other internet-connected devices pander to our pleasure-reward system, we quickly become addicted to the experience. People just cannot tear away from their phones, even if it costs them their sleep, relationships, or harms their health, just because they are so delightfully addictive.
In addition to the reward of receiving some type of virtual communication on internet-connected devices, people may find the anticipation of the experiences on mobile devices quite pleasurable too. Similar to the Pavlov dog experiments in the past, people are becoming mega-attached to their mobile devices, even more strongly than they may realize.
An Unplugged Nation may be a difficult concept to make a reality, but the National Day of Unplugging is a necessary event to make people pull the plug on addiction to tech. And since you don’t know what that unanswered email, text, or unseen online post is going to say, you can’t miss what you don’t know.
Staying Focused on Being Fake for Online Fame
There is also an increasingly grave issue where people are unable to detach themselves from their internet persona or obsess over what their friends and family are doing in the virtual world. Some people are attached to living the lives they have built for themselves online, and are unwilling or unable to reconnect to the real world around them.
Online addiction can cause people to focus on maintaining fake accounts, crave and seek out attention from online followers, or feel a rush over the anticipation of interactions with the online version of themselves. When someone is not as powerful, wealthy, or attractive in the real world, as they project to be online, it can be understandable why some people have a hard time, or flat out refuse to unplug.
Most people who spend hours of their life fixated on uploading flawless selfies, or brag in posts or tweets online, are creating a faux persona to garner more attention or likes. And the efforts that people make to out-do, or shock others online may even be executed for the promise of monetary gain, or to cause political upheaval.
When there’s an opportunity to make a believed easy dollar, some people will say or do anything online to gain, no matter the cost. And the risks and rewards tied up in the more unsavory parts of being online or over-connected to tech go both ways. There are still risks regarding security and privacy present, as the apps and operating systems of mobile devices are open to hacking and manipulation.
Unplugging for a Return to Mindfulness and Restoring Balance
Mental health may be a bit of the buzzword in many conversations worldwide, and the internet has a lot to do with it. Despite being more connected to technology than ever before, people are becoming increasingly despondent, lonely, anxious, or are dumbing themselves down for internet fame.
Victims of online bullying have chosen to end their lives, rather than suffer the continual pain. Online users who are attacked or blocked from posting their ideas or images, fight with platforms over rights to free speech and expression. Too much time spent online has led to people feeling out of touch with others, losing offline friends, and having low morale.
Rethink Your Screen Time
If you choose to participate in National Day of Unplugging, consider your time and how you use it. What things did you think you were too busy to do? Realize how much time you do have in your day when you are not spending hours staring at the screen or interacting with mobile devices.
Get Up and Moving
There really is a real world offline, if only you make the time to get out there and be a part of it. Use the time spent offline to exercise, take a walk in the park, visit a friend offline, or read a good book. Find activities that you otherwise didn’t make time for when plugged in.
Enjoy the Silence and a Slower Pace for Your Brain’s Sake
As brilliant as human beings are, our minds can only take sensory and information overload for so long. Unplugging from technology and electronics is perhaps the only way to reconnect with our natural selves. Spending time to evaluate how we spend our lives, what we make a priority, and how our choices impact our health is essential.
Being a human being is not about being machine-like and continuously a body in motion. Connecting to the natural world, other people, and making time for ourselves offline enrich our health. Pull the plug on tech this National Day of Unplugging.