During the last presidential election cycle we witnessed an unprecedented use and abuse of social media that forever changed American politics. Millions of people turned to social media to express their personal views not so much on the important issues but to support their candidate and bash the other one. Many people got caught up in all the fake news headlines that seem to stoke the fires. As they say in the south…there were too many folks acting really ugly!
Over 60% of Americans get their news from social media. As a culture, we have become a nation of “headline readers” giving little attention to the validity of the content. Our mobile devices and social media are designed to be addictive and distractive. Many of us give little to no effort in researching even big decisions such as electing the next president. Remember that headlines are designed to drive drama and elicit an emotional response.
According to Dr. Greenfield with the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, in a survey of cell phone users found that around 90% of Americans fall in the category of overusing, misusing or abusing their devices. Furthermore, the average person looks at their phone 200 times per day and social media users have an attention span of seven seconds! You may want to take the smartphone compulsive test to see just how much you’re addicted…I did and scored 11 of 15.
Can somebody get me a doctor? Stop the madness, push the pause button, and just breathe in deeply for a few seconds while you put your phone away, but only after you’re done reading this blog of course!
I believe there is a remedy to combat our addictive tendencies towards social media and our devices. There are 3 points that will help you gain perspective, get the right kind of engagement, and enjoy the precious present.
1. Perspective keeps us grounded and helps us focus on the big picture. One technique to getting perspective and maintaining it is by journaling. Specifically, I write down three things that I’m most grateful for and pick someone to encourage through a text message or email most every day. It’s easy and quick to do first thing in the morning and puts me in a peaceful state of mind. Another piece of advice is limiting your use of technology and media, especially first thing in the morning.
2. Engage and be present in the moment for the people you care about and for what is important in life. If you think about it, engagement is an emotional involvement and a commitment. The greatest gift you can give another human is your attention. Here are few helpful tips that I have found to be useful: Don’t check your phone during an appointment with someone. Be a life long student and try learning a new skill or hobby to expand your universe. Write out your goals and review them often, otherwise they tend to get forgotten in the busyness of life.
3. Live in the precious moment. After all, you can’t change the past or control the future. Ask yourself if you’re working to live or living to work? Focus on the quality of your lifestyle. Create space and build margin for error. Don’t be overly optimistic with your schedule. Protect your time by placing gaps in your schedule to take breaks and allow for unexpected surprises. It’s important to savor the precious present. Drink life to the ever last drop.