As we integrate more with technology, unplugging is no longer the solution

tech ed
Photo: 
Even before the pandemic, smartphones and laptops were attached to us by the hip. Over the past few months, this invasion of technology into our lives has only been exacerbated as we work from home or connect with loved ones online. We’re now constantly plugged into our devices—but is that really such a bad thing?
 
Technology, and the social media on them, were designed to be addictive. Given the countless articles, studies, and documentaries about this, almost everyone is aware our phones are taking advantage of us.
 
But even knowing this, we can’t just “unplug.”  Both our personal and our work lives are now integrated with our devices, whether this be through social media, email, text, or workplace applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams. 
 
Our excessive technology use isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our phones allow us to keep up with friends and loved ones across the world, which is especially important at a time when social distancing has become the norm. 
 
That said, the ability to be reached at any point in the day is blurring the line between our personal and our work lives—this is the issue: not the volume of technology usage, but how we separate it.
 
Because of technology, we’re working outside of our normal work hours more and more. Just because you’re out of the office, doesn’t mean you’re not getting bombarded by emails, texts, or calls from work. This can not only be overwhelming but may invade time you would normally have set outside for yourself.
 
Despite this, unplugging isn’t always an option. Doing so would mean sacrificing both work and personal notifications. At a time when our social lives are mostly conducted over the internet, this is unrealistic. Turning off your phone for extended periods of time can also heighten anxiety, making you feel like you’re missing something important.
 
Unfortunately, technology isn’t going away anytime soon, which means we’re going to have to adapt. As work invades our personal lives more and more, there are things we can—and should—do to set boundaries.
 
While totally unplugging is unrealistic, disabling notifications for emails and texts after a certain time each day is a good start. As winter break approaches, logging out of Slack or other work-related apps will give you the headspace you need. Curating your social media feeds to include more positive posts could also help.
 
It’s true—we’re constantly plugged into our devices. But in a world that now relies on them, doing otherwise is unrealistic. Instead of swearing off it, we must accept that technology is becoming more integrated into our lives. The best we can do is adapt.
 
—Journal Editorial Board
 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.