It’s been a dream of mine to see as many of the Mayan ruins as possible. In August, that dream came to fruition when I visited the ruins at Xunantunich, Belize. Being around structures that were so carefully built that they withstood the test of time was amazing. In the forests nearby, you could hear the screech of wild monkeys and you could see birds of every color in the trees. The energy of Xunantunich was both peaceful and mysterious.
I’ll admit that I, like almost everyone in our tour group, immediately pulled out my phone to take pictures. Sadly, I missed a good majority of what our guide was saying because I was so focused on snapping photos to upload to Facebook when I got back home. In the distance, a young man in our group had not one, not two, but at least four different professional cameras he was taking pictures with. Watching him scroll through his images on the bus later confirmed that he was doing this more as a hobby than a profession.
As person who works in marketing, it is definitely a good thing to be in the know when it comes to social media and technology in general. There is no way that I can avoid it. At time same time, I wonder — how much are we truly missing because we are staring at screens?
It’s odd… our world is more about “sharing” than any other time in history. We want to share our pictures, our friends, our experiences, our game scores, our thoughts, our complaints… but most of this sharing is self-centered. We do it because we feel that we need to keep up with everyone else. Now, it seems like we live in a society that shares more yet is also more self-absorbed.
Don’t get me wrong; I love technology. I love the fact that I’m able to talk to friends in different countries so easily. I feel that, overall, my generation and generations to come are more accepting of other cultures and ways of life because we have so much interaction and information at our fingertips. I just think that we all need a little reminder that sometimes, we can leave technology out.
How can you make sure that you’re not too buried in technology?
- Whether it’s once a day or once a week, give yourself a “time out” hour. Turn off the phone, hide the laptop and tablet, and focus on what is around you.
- Use social media as a reward for doing work instead of a distraction that interrupts your work day.
- Go to an event where you would typically reach for your phone as a barrier — except don’t bring your phone. This could be social gatherings where you do not know many people (networking events, for example), work meetings, eating alone while traveling for business or even family gatherings. Learn to embrace any insecurities and get to know the people around you.
- Instead of instant messaging a friend that you may not have talked to in a while, give them a call instead. Listen to their voice… hear their emotions… make your connection more personal.
- Challenge yourself. Tempted to use your GPS to find out where your next destination is? Thinking about using Wikipedia to do some research? Do it old school instead: use a map, read a book or use more traditional avenues to find your answer. You’ll be surprised how much more you remember/learn when you don’t have a computer doing it for you!
- Remember what’s important. This is your life — everything going on before you will never, ever occur in that same exact way ever again. There’s beauty in that, and so many of us don’t notice that beauty anymore. See, touch and hear the world in front of you. Leave your phone behind on your next trip and make memories that will last longer than a photo album. Take your children away from their computers and TVs and go on a walk. Whatever you do, do it in a way where 100% of you is present.