Disconnect to Reconnect
From Sherry Turkle's TED talk, "Connected, But Alone?":
"These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone. And that third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches. Because the moment that people are alone, even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device. Just think of people at a checkout line or at a red light. Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. And so people try to solve it by connecting. But here, connection is more like a symptom than a cure. It expresses, but it doesn't solve, an underlying problem. But more than a symptom, constant connection is changing the way people think of themselves. It's shaping a new way of being."
The best way to describe it is, I share therefore I am. We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings even as we're having them. So before it was: I have a feeling, I want to make a call. Now it's: I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text. The problem with this new regime of "I share therefore I am" is that, if we don't have connection, we don't feel like ourselves. We almost don't feel ourselves. So what do we do? We connect more and more. But in the process, we set ourselves up to be isolated."
Feeling a little guilty, Sherry Turkle's talk was extremely relatable to myself, and to a lot of people around me. I was aware of this addictive behaviour and would catch myself reaching for my phone whenever I was slightly bored or didn't want to socialize. With that awareness, I made an effort to put my phone down when I was with people or during dinner, etc. I didn't want to be so used to constantly connected online that I was unable to be completely unplugged without feeling like something was off. Earlier this year, I created a digital detox kit to help people recognize our addiction and why it's a habit we should try to get rid of. I was inspired to create this kit after learning more about mindfulness and being present. Our current society especially the people in my generation are so used to being on their phones that we're forgetting to learn and be okay with just ourselves. We end up with anxiety when we're alone, or constant FOMO (fear of missing out) when we're not with our friends or when we see someone else's highlight reel on Instagram or Snapchat. I'm still not sure what the solution to all of this is, but perhaps if we all were more aware of the isolation we are actually creating for ourselves, we can try a little harder to be present and to reconnect with ourselves.
Below is another video that I watched in one of my design studies class and it really struck a chord. Take a look for yourself!