Technology and Touch: Finding Balance


By MJ Ali

It’s not in dispute: touch technology has a place in innovation, accessibility development, education, and recreation. This is the era of the smartphone, bringing online connection to the masses for the past eleven years. More people are able to access the World Wide Web every day, no computer necessary.

This always-in-hand intimacy with our technology has literally placed an arsenal of powerful tools at our fingertips. Unlike the introduction of Internet access and personal computers, far more people have access to smartphones, and subsequently access to all the information previously reserved for those with a computer and Internet service. This brought our connection devices from the home office, spare room, or public library right into our pockets.

This is a far more powerful change than we could have anticipated, not only in terms of the number of people with access, but the intensity and frequency of that access. Your music library, health information, social networking, photo sharing, and—well, pretty much anything—are accessed through touching a piece of glass in your hand or on your wrist. There are countless positive implications for this technology, and—because we’re humans, after all—countless negative ones as well.

A watch app can alert family and medical contacts to a seizure when you can’t. GPS can also guide you into a lake if you’re not paying real-space attention.

Looking at one’s phone has become a form of OCD for many smartphone users. Looking down at one’s phone has also started causing neck and back issues specific to the posture maintained when texting, playing a game, or surfing the Web.

As our senses become less exposed to the world around us, we are concurrently challenged with overstimulation via the Internet. There is a burgeoning movement centered around Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, that bears even a light read. While these ASMR sessions do occur in person, far more prevalent are YouTube practitioners who specialize in certain aspects of ASMR, helping their listeners wind down and find peace and calm.

How do we wind down from all of it? How do we find balance? More and more meditation and yoga practices have been focusing on the physical, spiritual, and sociological implications our complex—and often isolating—digital world presents, and offering practices that address overstimulation and stress related to our use of technology. (The links in this paragraph will take you to contextual information.)

Ironically, finding what works best for you might take some research—yep, on the Internet—and then putting it into practice. It might take some experimentation. Find out how tethered you are and go from there. Walking away from all your technology until you find yourself feeling anxious about being away from it is a great start. Whether it’s two minutes or two hours, this observation will give you a great base from which to grow.

And, no matter what you’re doing, don’t forget to breeeeathe. (Click for 4-7-8 breathing… easy, fast, and effective!)

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