As I get older, entering the withered decrepitude of my late 20s, the urge to revert into “kids these days” mode is increasingly difficult to resist. Having said that, I’m also a Millennial with a practically photosynthetic addiction to screens, so I’m trying to strike a bit of a middle ground here.
On the one hand, I do think a lot of the panic around the younger generation’s attachment to technology is just business as usual, the same old fear of the new and unfamiliar that saw television, rock ‘n’ roll, computers, motor vehicles, telephones, radio, and even the printing press demonized in their early days.
On the other hand, however, I believe that where there’s potential for dependency, there’s potential for abuse. For example, it’s fine to own and use a smartphone, but if going without it for even an hour can induce the symptoms of withdrawal, then we have a problem.
The weekend before last, I went to visit my Mum and Step-Dad, who live in the middle of the bush. Usually, I spend a good chunk of my day on the internet, but while I was there, I went without it. I also barely used my phone. And you know what? I felt great.
It made me realize that while constant access to the online world can be fun and useful, it can also be like having a ball and chain around my ankle, because it can feel like an obligation. It’s like I’m always on call; like I have to be available 24/7 to answer messages and emails, check my social media channels, etc. It can be as much a source stress as entertainment, and sometimes it’s nice to take a break from that.
I also cannot emphasize enough the therapeutic value of getting away from the urban/suburban sprawl with its endless assault of stimuli and taking some time out in a natural setting. A walk in the bush can be a wonderful antidote to stress and anxiety.
Our minds, like our bodies, need time to rest and recover, and sometimes unplugging for a few days can be just what we need.