Numerous studies have revealed that on average we check our phones more than 200 times a day and have in fact started to become addicted to “staying connected”. We literally “run into” each other while walking and staring at our phones while texting. It happens every day. In the gym I attend for my training sessions, I see numerous people staring at their phones while sitting on weight equipment oblivious to the world around them. I have unofficially observed that up to 80-90% of the people who are there for physical activity are either listening “to something” through headphones or are reviewing data and/or texting someone. This is an enormous emerging challenge with no real solutions in sight: Sedentary lifestyles and technology.
With the revelations of Facebook’s role in the 2016 elections we are seeing the unfolding of more personal data being used for all kinds of purposes and it is not going to end anytime soon. My question is: Is it worth it for our future health to be so connected through technology or is there a better balance that can be struck that enables us to “reach out” more effectively? I pose this question in the context of our health not only NOW but in the future as well. I see health issues becoming more prevalent because we are literally “sitting our way to ill health”. Sitting has become the “new smoking”! Is there a healthy way forward or are we “tied to our technology” so that we can never break “the ties that bind us” to a life of no movement?
The challenge as I see it is that we are no longer “paying attention” to our lives. We need to understand what is happening in our individual experiences as we go through our day and then can hopefully make appropriate and timely decisions that will effect not only our future going forward – but today as well. The obesity crisis (71% of the population is either overweight or obese according to the latest data), the sedentary society that is now a reality, and the role that advancing technology will play in our lives are critical issues that need to be addressed if we are to find a “healthy way forward”.
As I have observed in my own experience, we are living in Steve Jobs vision of a world tied together through technology and available to us 24/7. He envisioned a world where we could access everything we needed through a phone – and computer. He wanted people to have the “freedom” to do all that they wanted to do efficiently and with a planned effort through the gifts that technology would bring to each of us. I believe that his vision has become one that is “tying” us to our devices so completely that we are “disconnected” from what is actually happening around us. Life is literally “passing us by” and we are completely “unconscious” to this process.
I have lived 80% of my life without any technological assistance whatsoever. To retain my own power I believe I am the one who gets to “choose” how and when I let my computer and phone assist me. Right now I am struggling with the concept of what I will need to sacrifice in order to have technology help me advance my career as a healthy aging specialist moving forward. I will never “catch up” with all the technological advances that are coming – or be inclined to use all the new gadgets just because “everyone needs the latest model of a device”. That is NOT how I want to live my remaining years. Is this a choice you need to review as well? I want to use my time more toward serving others and staying healthy and fit so that I can enjoy my 70’s to the fullest – and have the greatest impact on people’s lives that I can.
What will your priorities be going forward” Will you really care if you have the most recent technological advancement or will you set other priorities for yourself? Only YOU can decide how you want to integrate the hours of your day with the technology you have and use daily. As a practical matter it is through our choices that we determine the course of our lives and if we choose to spend them staring at our phones life WILL indeed pass us by. We will be sick, fat, and on drugs as we enter the very years that we wanted to enjoy. Is this you now or will you decide to change that future today by making new choices that give you time “to be” the best version of yourself that you can imagine?
I keep coming back to the issue of consciousness because I believe it is a fundamental principle of what healthy aging means to ME and after all isn’t that what matters most? We determine our future by the choices we make today. It really IS that simple. If we choose to spend the hours of our day sitting and staring at a computer screen or smart phone we will create a life of dependence and ill health that WILL dominate our days until we eventually die.
For the past five to eight years my daughter has been fighting the longest and most difficult of fights for her health. Alcohol dependency, health issues of significance and general mishaps (falls, concussions etc.) have created a life that is characterized by hospital stays, ER visits, medical interventions of all shapes and sizes, and numerous appointments with specialists and medical professionals to treat her and get her back on the road to health. I am sure she never envisioned her 40’s being dedicated to her health in such a complex way but she is in a battle for her life now and the outcome is NOT certain. There are encouraging signs emerging but as her father I am very concerned about what IS going to happen to her going forward.
Her situation is not all that uncommon and many of us do NOT realize how close to our mortality we will come before we realize we “could have” or “should have” chosen differently when we had the chance. Lisa’s challenges started to form in her 20’s on both a professional and personal level and she is “unwinding” all of that harm now. I can only love her and wish her well – and let the professionals “do what they need to do” for her to enhance her chances at a full life again.
How will you choose? Will you continue to stare at your phone or will you decide to start living in the “real world”? I want to live in the real world as much as possible and therefore I DO NOT check my phone while training at the gym – it remains in my bag . I do NOT text so I do not need to check for text messages. My latest phone IS a very good phone with incredible capabilities but I will NOT make it the focus my day. I want to smile at people, greet my day with an “attitude of gratitude” and bless my very breath. I awake with gratitude and hopefulness in my heart and carry that feeling throughout the day so my “consciousness” may expand – and not shrink. Let your consciousness grow beyond its current boundaries and you WILL be rewarded in kind and isn’t that worth all your best intentions?
As I live each day my mind is always focused on my many blessings. I think about Lisa and her continuing efforts to heal and am grateful I don’t have to face such challenges. I get to breathe and think and feel – and BE as alive as I choose to be because healthy aging starts “within us” and cannot be derived from our technology no matter how SMART it may be. On one level Steve Jobs was right. Dealing with the complexities of the modern world DOES require wonderful advancements in technology but at what price? Do we succumb to the “siren call” of the internet or do we USE it as the tool it was meant to be? I don’t think even Steve Jobs would object to that line of questioning, do you? Only YOU can decide your future – what will it be?