3 minute read

Technology "Promises and Pitfalls"

Technology. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle. We are a new people because of it. It has caused a re-ordering of how we behave, think and feel. It has been a dramatically re-orienting process within our personal and professional relationships, our work lives, our at-home lives… our entire lives. We have been called upon to re-examine and re-shape our lives according to a new set of values that define a new version of ourselves. Social media is a series of smiling people with great lives, eating great food and visiting great places. We compete with pictures that make our own lives seem small. We meet people on line who aren’t even real who leave a trail of human wreckage as hearts are broken and bank accounts are emptied. We say things to others online that we would never say person to person. We don’t have to see hurt register on someone’s face or risk a conversational comeback that will do us the damage that we dished out.

We have watched as children have been injured by online bullies whose words can never be erased. In some cases, the victims could not imagine a way around the feelings of humiliation and anxiety and suicided; ending a young life and future. Hate groups pop up like weeds with credible recruitment tactics; inviting others to join for righteous reasons and validating anger to fuel their own needs. It is an easy search to find what you want. These groups are convincing and trap their victims with what appears to be friendship and some level of human intimacy. But intimacy is not to be offered on a machine. Intimacy is a developed process of engagement. Words and pictures cannot suffice for a real person to person relationship developed over time and face to face.

Of course there are positives with technology. We are connected. There are places we can reach, people we can see, and things we can do like never before. People gather together to fund charities and people in trouble. People who are not mobile can attend churches and school. They can shop and play and visit places virtually. Our remote capabilities are extreme. We can zoom, we can hang-out, and we can face-time family members, friends and colleagues.

We can go to school, church and work via a computer screen. We shop for groceries, we play games, and we watch hours of videos with blue light glasses and ear buds. Have our virtual connections hurt us as much as helped us?

As adults we have worried about our kids spending too much time online playing games and visiting friends. We have researched and looked for solutions to self-imposed isolation, impulsive behaviors and lack of emotional filters. We found real physical health-related issues like repetitive injuries (like carpal tunnel), chronic neck and back pain and blurred vision. For adults, sitting for hours at a time at a computer has been known to cause health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Loss of cognition and information overload has become part of the screen time experience. Weight gain and sleep disorders add to the mix of symptoms of a sedentary society. Our investment in being connected to some online experience and the isolation it has caused, has led to a host of obsessive behaviors and addictions. Shopping, game playing, gambling and alcohol and drug use have become dangerous mental health endeavors due to our investment in a host of virtual worlds. 

So here we have it, the potential addictions, overwhelming emotions and isolation are frightening enough, but add to these increased physical concerns and you have the perfect storm for long term health conditions, perhaps even life-long health problems.

There is hope and promise and we can find it in ourselves. Here are some tips for finding health in a world bent on technological engagement and continuous innovation:

Unplug: Create a screen-free space. Create a screen-free time every day. Get up and get out: Move your body. Breath fresh air. Stay in faith: Whatever that means to you. Have gratitude: Be aware of positives in your life. Be mindful. If you need help, seek it: If negative feelings and compulsions outweigh the positives in your life, it’s time to find a new way.

If needed, Lake Behavioral Hospital has people there help you begin to balance those life scales. A free assessment will identify the level of care that you need. By walk-in or appointment, 24/7/365, the team at Lake Behavioral is ready to help. Reach out, it’s a great first step.