How to Relax in the Digital Age: 11 Ways to Get Some Balance

The latest research suggests that people check their smartphones 20 ba-jillion times per day (appx). That stat completely describes me — I get the shakes if my phone is more than 20 feet way. However, I do accept this despicable condition as one of my own making and do hereby swear to help other digital/phone/technology addicts in their own quests to dial down their obsession… or at least relax a bit. I think it’s pertinent at this point to pull out a great Marshall McLuhan quote that diagnoses this state more aptly:

In the electric age, when our central nervous system is technologically extended to involve us in the whole of mankind and to incorporate the whole of mankind in us, we necessarily participate, in depth, in the consequences of our every action. It is no longer possible to adopt the aloof and dissociated role of the literate Westerner.

When we’re constantly connected to digital media we become thin and stretched in our psyche’s trying to see and sort all the information in all the world all the time. On a good day it’s that we’re fiddling with our phones too much. On a bad day it becomes insomnia and restlessness. So with this technologically extended hyper-state in mind, let me offer some lifestyle tips for tech lovers that might be a good first step toward getting our digital connectivity under control.

When you go to a restaurant with someone keep your phone in your pocket. If you’re a total psycho you can check your phone when you got to the restroom.

Give commercials 100% of your attention just like you do the show. This unifies the experience and (speaking as someone in marketing) gives credit to all the hard work that goes into making commercials. Honor them.

Watch the credits after the movie. Same reason as above.

Don’t channel surf. Spend the time sharpening your axe (aka using the show guide), then watch what you want to watch like you’re showing up to a doctor’s appointment (credit to LL Cool J for this one).

Yield to the largest screen in the room when tempted to play with multiple devices. The more devices you’re fiddling with the less you’re able to separate and absorb the content.

Put your phone in a different room during dinner time. And mute it. Is 30 minutes going to kill you?

Read right before bed instead of scanning Facebook or some other consumption-of-humanity social network.

Pick one day a week not to wear a watch. I don’t know about you but without it I feel lost and afloat in a dark sea of emptiness and inefficiency. But I need that feeling every now and then to remind me to chill the heck out.

Don’t use news apps. Ever.

Have a friend text you for 5 straight minutes but refuse to look at your phone. This will build up your “ignore that ding” muscle. Apple has gone Pavlov on all of us so yes, it’s going to feel great to get a Twitter update or text. Don’t instantly eat that candy.

Get out in nature. Without your iGizmo. Force yourself. Apparently a week in nature will reset all your human/time/sleep settings. If you can’t take a week then just get outside, even just for a walk here and there.

Do you have a tip that’s helped for you?  Share it in the comments the next time you’re multi-tasking on your iPad during a video conference while watching TV.

Jon Barnes is the Director of Communications for ADG Creative and a heck of a guy. Read more over at ADG’s blog, Brain Juice, including that one time when we all went and took a crash course in Letterpress.

Would you like to be a guest blogger for AIGA Baltimore? Email Greg to find out more information!

By Jon Barnes
Published September 15, 2014