The Partnership for a Drug-Free America ran a number of TV ads back in the 1980’s highlighting the dangers of doing drugs. The frying egg spots struck a nerve with a number of adolescents back then including myself. Although still prevalent today, there is a new drug of choice among many: social media. Over-connectivity or stimulus overload, social media is fast becoming an addictive and powerful stimulant to many.
Today, it’s not uncommon to hear about companies banning social media from the workplace. The effectiveness of such policies are still subject to debate as tech-savvy employees can usually work around this to get their fix, but the point is employers see it as as a total time suck. (reminds me of an employer who asked how to keep her employees from using social media while at work, and then lamented she has no time to use social media to promote her business – hmmmm)
A New York Times article highlights a group of scientists who set out on the San Juan River “to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.” Going beyond mere social media, they cut themselves off from all forms of technology and connectivity.
Imagine the horror of not being able to receive email via your smartphone? Or worse, not being able to read visual voice mail or send text messages? Oh the humanity!!! Seriously, it’s not all that bad. In this modern era of always-on instant transmission/reception it’s sometimes good (and necessary) to unplug. It seems to allow oneself to clear the mind and be free of distraction.
You can sometimes experience this just by going for a run or a bike ride (provided you leave the phone and mp3 player behind) Ever hear people say they get their best ideas while working out or doing something physical? There really is something to this. For maximum effect go on a weekend or week long adventure to place where cellular signals can not penetrate. This way if you get tempted to turn on your phone, you’ll be greeted with nothing but “No Signal”.
You may just find that “No Signal” in the digital world translates into “Strong Signal” in the brainpower/creativity world.