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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

RE: Fabulous Magazine - Do you need techno rehab?


This Sunday just gone, I was sat curled up on the sofa half heartedly leafing through the Sunday magazines, suffering from my food coma caused by Mamaw's roast dinner. I picked up Fabulous magazine and found the article 'Do You Need Techno Rehab?' which I not only found interesting, but pretty much found myself agreeing with.

Our current generation is so reliant on technology and being a techo addict is so common and acceptable that I actually find it weird when I discover someone doesn't have Facebook. Whereas it should be the other way around, when I meet a hot guy and he tells me he doesn't have Facebook, I immediately think he must be odd. Because everyone has Facebook. 

I've given up Facebook in the past and whilst it helped briefly when I had to concentrate on doing university work, overall it made me feel anxious about what I might be missing out on. The same goes for Twitter - if I don't check it regularly, I worry about what great opportunities I might be missing out on, being that Twitter is often used for networking these days. And don't even get me started on Instagram. In between the photos of my outfits and my food (only to brag that I can cook actually when I want to), I hate the idea of missing my rockstar crushes latest upload of er the fifth picture of the Arizona sunset in as many weeks.

Am I really missing out on that much?!

Of course I'm not. Neither of us are. But the way we've grown up, we've become too reliant on technology. The thing is, although I agree that we are far too reliant on it, at the same time I believe that it's also very necessary. I don't use social networking just to chat to friends. I use it to promote my blog, to research things and more. Without the internet, there are so many great jobs and opportunities I would have missed out on in the past. And on top of that, there's the pure basic benefits of technology like being able to contact someone easily in an emergency or keeping in touch with friends and family when you are away. The internet was a godsend whilst I was at university as it meant I could keep in touch with everyone, and using Facebook I could share photographs of what I was up to. But this also meant I didn't actually call people as much and I do admit I found myself missing the sounds of my families voices. As well as that, although my nan insists it's disgraceful how often I use my iPhone, again I usually find an excuse to call it necessary. With apps from everything to finding the nearest free public loo when you're lost to discovering the latest cinema times at the touch of a button - there's no argument against it, technology really does make life so much easier.

However, with having a phone on you 24/7 with apps for pretty much every single social networking website, it's also impossible to switch off. Gone were the days when you'd log onto your computer and check your emails during business hours, before using Facebook to see what people are up to later this evening. Now, not only can you check emails or check up on your friends on the go, you're actually informed and get notifications every time something pops up. This means even when you're eating your dinner you can hear your phone go off and read and reply to that email or tweet instantly. Of course it's useful in an emergency or when trying to arrange plans, but overall it makes it impossible to switch off and relax. Work hours almost cease to exist anymore with actual work taking place during business hours, but corresponding emails, answering to colleagues and even blogging normally continue till late hours in the evening.

So how do we switch off, without losing the benefits of technology?

I don't think the problem is that we're 'addicts' or that we should stop completely - and I don't think there's a problem with keeping your phone on you all the time either. Though the older generation complain, it is really how we were brought up and it's our lifestyle. It's easier for us to arrange plans with a friend via Facebook, and I don't think that necessarily needs to be changed or stopped completely.


I think the real issue is compromising and working out how to use technology within reason. When it effects your personal life, leaving you unable to relax after work or stopping you from seeing friends in real life as opposed to chatting up online, that's where the real differences need to be made. Perhaps not stopping completely, but just cutting down.

Since getting my iPhone last summer, I've often found it impossible to escape. Some evenings when I'm not in the mood for socialising and just want to curl up with a book, I can honestly say I sometimes find it impossible to do so. Having my phone on me means I'm constantly notified of things and the need to see what exactly is too great to ignore. Then, once I've seen the message/Tweet/email etc, I actually end up feeling guilty for not replying, even though I'm having time to myself. Of course then I do reply and whoever I'm talking to is probably feeling the same as me and goes on to reply almost immediately - before I know it within fifteen minutes I find myself unable to relax. I get irritated at the constant messages even though I know I'm continuing the conversation and often if it's emails regarding ebay issues or my blog, I then find myself stressing about those things too. It's impossible to win!

So I decided to try and change that, realizing that since I wasn't at university anymore and didn't need to rely on technology to contact people far away, I didn't really need to use technology so much. I thought of some different ways to cut down, using my laptop only for blogging or watching TV shows and using my phone less in general.

Switching off my laptop after a certain time of evening actually helped a lot. I made much more effort to complete what I needed to do in the day and felt more motivated to get it done asap so that I could relax in the evening. Once my dad gets in from work at about 7pm, I switch it off and spend the next few hours with my parents. Later in the evenings I tended to only use the laptop again to watch a TV show as opposed to any form of socialising or working, but that admittedly has slipped a little. I still use my laptop in the evenings to socialise and look at other blogs, but I no longer blog past a certain time of night and I definitely don't reply to emails. Overall, my laptop is used in the evenings usually for films or TV. Switching off the notifications on my phone would help a lot too, I know, although I haven't yet managed to do that. I'm guilty of admitting that without checking my phone often, I do feel like I'm missing out on something. I'd like to be able to switch off notifications completely therefore only seeing messages or updates when I decide to check them when I want to, but I do fear that I'd only end up checking them too often than I should. Finally, analysing exactly what I put up online has made a big difference to how much I use my laptop and my phone. Although I don't put personal details up, I have found I don't like updating Facebook too much with what I've been up to or things like that, because it takes the whole point out of conversations and catching up with friends. Now I tend to use Facebook to talk about films I want to see or general status's every now and then, but no longer do I use it to talk about what I'm up to or what I'm doing (not as much anyway). This has actually helped me go on to spend more time with people in person as opposed to catching up online, which is always a good thing.

So perhaps the real problem isn't using our phones or laptops too much, but instead struggling to draw that line between work/socialising mode to relaxing mode. Maybe if we switched off our phones and laptops just a couple of hours each day, we'd have more time to shut ourselves down for the evening and become more relaxed.

Do you think you're a techno addict? Do you prefer to chat to your friends online because it's too cold to go out and actually make proper plans? Or do you struggle to understand and keep up with Facebook/Twitter and whatever else as it is? Let me know in the comments below!


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