If you are looking forward to your summer holidays, let me suggest that you try to digitally disconnect while you’re away. Plan to drastically cut your engagement with social media, email and the web.
There are growing concerns about how dependent we are becoming on social media, the use of email and constant web browsing. Whether the deep need some of us have to being connected at almost any cost counts as addiction is a serious question. It’s certainly a problem.
There should be no question about cutting ourselves off from work when we go on holiday. After all, to remain connected to your job means that you are not, in any real sense, on vacation. My concern is that although we may do this, when we are on holiday we continue to use social media, email and browse (often aimlessly) various websites. In fact, free from workplace constraints, vacations can mean that some of us spend even more time on the web.
The lure of the web is strong. It gives us the sense that we have opportunity and accessibility and, through social media, offers the illusion of belonging to a real community. The consequence is that even a brief separation from such things as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram can make us feel isolated.
There is no better time than a holiday to cut down our use of social media.
- Disconnecting is good for our body. We all spend far too long hunched up, staring down at screens. Let’s look up and gaze at real people. Don’t forget that holidays are supposed to be where we rest and relax, and we can’t switch off if we are permanently switched on.
- Disconnecting is good for our mind. Psychologists suggest that the overload of information we get from Internet use is changing the way the brain works. Memory skills are in decline and we no longer reason in a linear fashion, using sustained arguments, but, instead, think only in disconnected fragments. Many frequent users of the Internet confess to struggling to read through a chapter of a book. Disconnect on holiday and, in digital silence, let your mind be at peace.
- Disconnecting is good for our relationships. Holidays are an essential time to connect with those around us, whether a spouse, family or friends. There are many couples in busy lives who go away on holiday needing to have issues discussed, bonds built or even wounds healed. Yet, sadly, this may not occur because one or both are too busy staring at their smartphones. To put social media before talking to your partner or family is to make a tragic statement about values and priorities.
Go to bed with your spouse, not your phone!
- Disconnecting is good for our spirit. Some people have such an intense relationship with their smartphone that it can only be described as idolatry: the worship of a little handheld idol that brings them comfort. We are to relate not just to each other but to God, and it’s all too easy for digital connectivity to get in the way of both relationships.
So let’s disconnect from social media and the web this summer, and instead connect with God, our spouse, family and friends.