Disconnect to reconnect

Aaron Burden

Technology is an inevitable part of even the slowest of modern lives. This podcast, news sites, social media, blogs, forums, videos… even if you’re being intentional it can (and will) be overwhelming at times.

This week Ben and I talk about what we stand to gain by disconnecting regularly and why it’s so important to reconnect with what matters, without the distracting blare of notifications and devices vying for our attention.

In SLOW I write:

Modern connection technology has delivered us a paradox. We have more connection and less humanity. We’re hyper-engaged and increasingly isolated. We have more information and less critical thought. We see more tragedy and have less empathy. We enjoy more privilege but are less satisfied. We are sensitive to personal offence and desensitised to the suffering of others.

The connected world offers us so much – so much to learn, to see, to share, to do. But hyperconnection brings with it a steep downside.

Slow living provides an opportunity to step back, pay attention and question the ways we use technology, to recalibrate our relationship with the constantly switched-on, logged-in world. It offers us an opportunity to disconnect, in order to reconnect.

The biggest question is how?

Firstly, it’s important to keep in mind what we stand to gain by having more in-person connection:

    • more time – connection technology steals minutes and hours a day, and we barely notice
    • more humanity – screens can create a sense of distance between us and others, and the internet can harden us
    • more action – when we waste time procrasti-scrolling we not only lose those minutes but we also lose the opportunity to do something with those minutes. Just because we’re doing something doesn’t mean we’re being productive
    • more peace and quiet – the stimulus and noise is incessant when we’re connected constantly
  • more ability to think and reflect – when we let the noise abate and learn to sit in the silence we give ourselves the ability to think more deeply, and it’s in these moments that some of our best ideas come forward

And then it’s a matter of establishing some boundaries and sticking to them, knowing what’s at stake if we don’t.

Some of the simple boundaries we have in our home include:

    • screen-free bedrooms
    • no screens at the table
    • pockets of screen-free time every day (the first and last hours of the day, for example)
  • we try to find places where there is no wifi and revel in the peace it brings

It’s an evolving set of boundaries that continue to expand as we find the joy in disconnection, and if ever I find myself slipping back in to those old patterns of overconsumption or hyperconnection all I have to do is look up and see what I stand to gain by switching off. How do you manage connection technology in your home? What boundaries or rules work for you? And what do you find challenging? Let us know in the comments.



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13 Responses to Disconnect to reconnect

  1. My bedroom and the dining table are screen-free, but I am not managing to convince my 15-year old to put his phone out of the room at night…- any clues on how to show teenagers that it is really beneficial, and that I am not trying to cut them out from their (social) life?

  2. I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but I have some thought beforehand. This year I have been struggling with my mind and my own thoughts. I have lost 1/2 stone, gained 1/2 stone…and been on a yoyo for the whole year.

    I have just discovered the moderation movement and I think you’ll find some value in it to. I have just completely got swept away with my own idea of health, government recommendations, everyone else’s ideas for health.. that I have become overwhelmed and spent a lot of time feeling guilty. I feel like I have a lot of work to do, to put my “normal” self back together.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I also notice that I have been wanting to be “the best version of myself” but I can not keep up with the pressure of being “perfect” all the time!

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  4. Loved this episode! I’m definitely guilty of mindlessness and always seem to need some kind of mental entertainment, even on the move, whether it’s music, books or podcasts I’m afraid. I’ve found it useful to set reminders, as you recommended, or making the conscious decision to leave my books and phone in my bag while on my daily commute. It feels so good to just sit there and let your mind wander while watching the world go by. :)

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