According to news reports, media mogul Simon Cowell has ditched his phone for over ten months, and has been quoted to say the withdrawal from technology has been good for his mental health.
He says he was irritated with how often he was using his phone, and ever since he ditched it, he was more aware and paid more attention to the world and people around him.
“It’s a strange experience,” but he “is more aware of the things around me, and happier for it.”
Cowell is not alone. More than half of phone users check it within 15 minutes of waking up, and many believe that our partners use the phone too much too.
Being swarmed with technology creates many problems.
Technology is a good thing, but we haven’t quite learned to manage it yet. Unfortunately, workplace systems and processes demand that we embrace it, rather than ditch it.
It is easier for employers to demand their employees remain at their beck and call, and get them to do more work out of office hours by saying “I emailed you the documents over the weekend” and then expecting things have been dealt with, or demanding their response with a text message.
You can choose to filter out technology, but unfortunately many of us don’t have this choice, unless we work for ourselves, or – like Cowell – have executive assistants to deal with such matters on our behalf. We don’t want it intruding, but we can’t exactly do without it completely, and it is in navigating the disconnect that proves difficult.
Technology promotes a disconnect in many ways too. Musicians who rely on technology face having to alter their art form because the audience expectations have changed. Remember when being a music DJ meant spinning decks and records? Now it is about clicking touchscreens and select pre-edited tracks. Musician Bob Dylan faced accusations from the folk community when his music became electric with amplified guitars.
Disconnect is fun, don’t get me wrong. Listen to classical music crossed with disco. Or metal music is enjoyed because the dark lyrics are sung to major keys. But when you have a disconnect in daily life that widens each day, managing that contradiction is one of the things you need to do, or it will lead to a decline of your mental health.