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Plugged in…stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

Interesting conversation going on these days about how the companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft are influence us and in some ways control our everyday lives. The Guardian, Only the Eu can break Facebook and Google’s dominance, not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilisation is at stake.

The rise and monopolistic behaviour of the giant American internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the US government’s impotence. These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebookand Google have grown ever more powerful, they have become obstacles to innovation, and have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.

Companies earn their profits by exploiting their environment. Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment. This is particularly nefarious, because these companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This interferes with the functioning of democracy and the integrity of elections.

Because internet platform companies are networks, they enjoy rising marginal returns, which accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users, and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than three years.

Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all digital advertising revenue. To maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and increase their share of users’ attention. Currently they do this by providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies. Read the whole article here.

I think this is a good introduction to the article; how to detox for students and was thinking this is something everyone should try to do. It is our job as educator, parents, and friends to be aware of the danger of distraction, addiction, and manipulation. Read the article from Mindshift here:

If the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov were alive today, what would he say about smartphones? He might not think of them as phones at all, but instead as remarkable tools for understanding how technology can manipulate our brains. Pavlov’s own findings — from experiments he did more than a century ago, involving food, buzzers and slobbering dogs — offer key insights into why our phones have become almost an extension of our bodies, modern researchers say. The findings also provide clues to how we can break our dependence. Hearing the buzzer had become pleasurable. That’s exactly what’s happening with smartphones, says David Greenfield , a psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut. When we hear a ding or little ditty alerting us to a new text, email or Facebook post, cells in our brains likely release dopamine — one of the chemical transmitters in the brain’s reward circuitry. That dopamine makes us feel pleasure, Greenfield says. “That ping is telling us there is some type of reward there, waiting for us,” Greenfield says.

Signs you might need to cut back

The average adult checks their phone 50 to 300 times each day, Greenfield says. And smartphones use psychological tricks that encourage our continued high usage — some of the same tricks slot machines use to hook gamblers.

“For example, every time you look at your phone, you don’t know what you’re going to find — how relevant or desirable a message is going to be,” Greenfield says. “So you keep checking it over and over again because every once in a while, there’s something good there.” (This is called a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement. Animal studies suggest it makes dopamine skyrocket in the brain’s reward circuity and is possibly one reason people keep playing slot machines.)

A growing number of doctors and psychologists are concerned about our relationship with the phone. There’s a debate about what to call the problem. Some say “disorder” or “problematic behavior.” Others think over-reliance on a smartphone can become a behavioral addiction, like gambling.

Signs you might be experiencing problematic use, Lembke says, include these:

  • Interacting with the device keeps you up late or otherwise interferes with your sleep.
  • It reduces the time you have to be with friends or family. It interferes with your ability to finish work or homework.
  • It causes you to be rude, even subconsciously. “For instance,” Lembke asks, “are you in the middle of having a conversation with someone and just dropping down and scrolling through your phone?” That’s a bad sign.
  • It’s squelching your creativity. “I think that’s really what people don’t realize with their smartphone usage,” Lembke says. “It can really deprive you of a kind of seamless flow of creative thought that generates from your own brain.”

A recent study of high school students, published in the journal Emotion, found that too much time spent on digital devices is linked to lower self-esteem and a decrease in well-being. The survey asked teens how much time they spent — outside of schoolwork — on activities such as texting, gaming, searching the internet or using social media.

“We found teens who spend five or more hours a day online are twice as likely to say they’re unhappy,” compared to those who spend less time plugged in, explains the study’s author, Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

Twenge’s research suggests digital abstinence is not good either. Teens who have no access to screens or social media may feel shut out, she says.

But there may be a sweet spot. According to the survey data, “the teens who spend a little time — an hour or two hours a day [on their devices] — those are actually the happiest teens,” Twenge says.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

As much as many of us choose to overlook it, there is a lot wrong with the way most of us currently live our lives.

We sit in chairs all day long gaining weight, we eat processed foods and we face constant stresses from work, from our relationships, and from our finances.

What’s more, we are constantly in demand and constantly ‘plugged in’ and ‘stressed out’. Our phones are always ringing, texts are always coming in, we get a new e-mail every two minutes… And even when most of us aren’t working or being bothered, we have a near addiction to technology that means we’re still unable to really decompress.

And while our attention spans are not really shorter than a goldfish, it is not surprising that our attention has become more demanding. We are always demanding to be entertained as we flip from one video to another or one app to another.

And all this amid a raging pandemic.

Is it any wonder that mental health problems are skyrocketing?

Using mindfulness to escape modern stress is probably a big part of the reason that mindfulness is so popular right now. Mindfulness simply means directing attention in a purposeful manner. Sometimes this will mean focusing on our thoughts (in an objective and non-judgmental way) but in other cases, it will mean simply being more present and focusing on our breathing and our environments.

Either way, the idea of mindfulness is to enjoy calmness and stop the incessant chatter of our minds. Instead of being completely engaged with the world around you, we need to learn to disengage with your thoughts, providing you with relief from stress and from fear and allow you to simply relax and recover.

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness. How many times have you realized you devoured the entire bag of potato chips while binge-watching your favorite Netflix series? Or how many times have you suddenly asked yourself “where did my day go”? Often before bedtime, we can’t even remember what we did with our time during the day.

I realize the damaging toll the pandemic has made on our lives. Everyone has suffered in some way. How are we coping? For many, we have tried to escape the reality of it all through overeating, binging on Netflix, or staying glued to our phone or iPad screen.

There is a better way.

It starts with being aware that we are not being aware.

Boiled down to its essence, mindfulness is the observation of one’s own thoughts and emotions. In other words, it means stepping back and then simply being aware of what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and what you are experiencing. This can then, in turn, be used to help treat a wide range of different psychological problems and to generally improve your psychological health.

The reason for this is that it brings more attention to the way that we handle various different events and to how our thoughts and emotions normally control us. This then in turn allows us to anticipate them, to deal with them, and ultimately to prevent them.

Mindfulness is a broad tool to be used in a number of different ways. In almost every scenario though, the true end goal is to be aware of the present moment and to find an inner calm that often eludes us.

Ready to work on your mindfulness? Start with Designing Your New Normal Mindset to guide you in defining your best state of mindfulness. Available now. Available HERE .

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

NAJMA SIYAD

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired worldIn 2017, the French Parliament enacted a new labor law that allows employees in France a “right to disconnect” from emails, smartphones and other electronic devices once their work day has ended.

In theory, France’s new concept of disconnecting sounds appealing and in favor of unplugging and work-life balance. The interesting idea here is whether it would be possible to implement a similar law in the U.S. that gives people the right to disconnect—in other words, the right not to respond to work-related emails or text messages over the weekend or after clocking out.

For those of us addicted to our phones, a right to “disconnect” would give us a chance to decompress and evaluate what is most important to us. The freedom and accessibility technology provides for us is great; however, the constant use of devices has obscured the boundaries between work, leisure, relationships and real life.

This proves a point that perhaps we do not even need to implement a law, rather we should recognize when to “disconnect.”

If you find yourself stressed out, or overwhelmed by the constant scrolling, refreshing to see updates and texting—there is honestly no better prescription for getting your life together and feeling less overwhelmed than simply disconnecting.

Over time, being plugged in, whether it be social media, emails or Youtube, affects your productivity level. After a certain point, a loss of functional memory sets in and each hour spent on doing pretend work is wasted.

As college students, we are constantly under pressure to meet deadlines, and when each hour spent on meeting those deadlines has diminishing returns, we begin to freak out. Studies have confirmed that “disconnecting” can significantly reduce your stress and increase your concentration, helping you unwind from everyday pressure.

One study done by Nottingham Trent University found that constant “connection” to emails or social media sites was linked to both decreased moment-to-moment happiness and lower life satisfaction. The more people stay connected to social media, the greater the chances of them feeling socially isolated. We all play a role in making ourselves look better and create personas online to make ourselves feel better. However, as we scroll through our feed and make judgments, we fall victim to comparing how we measure up.

Those of us who have developed this unhealthy cycle, where we continually expose ourselves to such content, feel like we are somehow not living our best lives. Part of the reason for this unhealthy cycle is that we get caught in the delusion that it would make us feel better, but honestly, it does quite the opposite. “Unplugging” from the internet from time-to-time helps boost our emotional well being.

It seems the more advanced and accessible technology becomes, the more we get sucked into the bottomless abyss of cyberspace where less human interaction occurs. We seem to be connected wirelessly by sharing images, texting, emailing and keeping count of how many artificial likes we get, but we forget the most important connection of all: face-to-face interaction.

Perhaps we should take notes from the French and start valuing real-life relationships and take advantage of those chances we get to sip on wine and eat baguettes.

Look up from your smartphone and interact with real people. Stop stressing over likes and captions in a virtual world and just be in the real world!

If you’re feeling brave enough, try taking a breaking from social media and see how it goes. Try to write a book. Go skydiving. Do whatever. Just “disconnect” and live a stress-free, worry-free life.

Najma Siyad is a sophomore philosophy and communication studies major from Eagan Minn.

Christina reveals how key shifts in our thinking can help us to prioritize joy and draw closer to one another. Through her writing, podcast, and facilitation of Navigate—a monthly tune-up for your digital life—she helps people hone in on the relationships and work that matter most to them.

“The Marie Kondo of Digital.”

Harper’s Bazaar

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

Christina’s Path to JOMO

Christina Crook is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication. She’s worked for some of Canada’s most recognized media organizations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Rogers Digital Media.

Her own battle with digital overwhelm, balance, and values misalignment led her to write the book The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, which examines the connected world through the lens of her own internet fast.

Christina’s book was a harbinger of the global #JOMO movement and kicked off her ongoing work as a digital mindfulness thought leader, speaker, writer, and host of the JOMOcast podcast. She’s a founding member of the Digital Wellness Collective, a body of professionals in the digital wellness space.

Behind the scenes, Christina is raising three kids with her husband in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. You can find her nourishing her mind and body by rowing, mailing postcards, or flying brightly coloured kites with her family on the lakeshore.

Watch Christina In Action

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

“We need more thoughtfulness added to the conversation around tech, and Christina is that rare mix of expertise and approachability that makes her a highly sought after and respected voice.”

David Ryan Polgar, founder of All Tech is Human Summit

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

Let’s Dig In: The Highs, the Lows, the Good, and the Bad

“It was 2013 and I was feeling this flatness. I had grown tired of the web mediating my relationships. I felt like the Internet was making me lazy as a thinker, a writer, and a friend. Then I saw a priest blessing a smartphone and that was the tipping point for me. I decided to fast from the Internet for 31 days.

“I discovered an abundance of time I never thought I had. I experienced peace and a quietness of mind I had been hungering for. I found connection with neighbours, strangers and friends, because I was forced to turn to people (like the day I locked my baby and my keys inside the house) rather than Google for help.

I was figuring out how to flourish in a digital world.

“I decluttered my inbox, implemented a weekly tech sabbath and culled the list of people I follow. I deepened my relationships.

“Embracing the joy of missing out gave me time to craft and present a TEDx talk and write a book about my JOMO experience. This led to panels at conferences and speaking opportunities in front of audiences of esteemed leaders. It was an awesome high. But with those highs came conflict.

“I had young children and a husband who spent 50% of the year on the road for work. I had put out this book and I felt all of these obligations. I said yes to everything. I crashed and burned (again) until I slowly learned that I am not the saviour of the world. What I really needed to do was to practice what I preached in the book—which was to prioritize relationships and joy before all. And what needed the most attention? My family and marriage. So we did that. It was really slow, painful work and we got out of it.

“Through my journey with JOMO I’ve accumulated a lifetime of learnings I feel called to share with others. So here we are, in this reality: we are all going to live with technology for the rest of our lives. But we get to decide how. And I’m here to build and nurture a community of people who can navigate that together.”

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world
Yesterday, I was on a conference call regarding one of my businesses and I suddenly realized I hadn’t completed any of the tasks that I was supposed to because life has been so hectic since my two older kids started their summer break. A wave of anxiety started to creep over me as I realized that I have so much work to do this summer while simultaneously keeping my children fed, occupied, and organized. Not to mention the fact that we will be traveling around Europe for a few weeks.

My life is generally chaotic because by nature I’m an organized mess. It seems paradoxical but it has always worked for me in the past. However, the older the children get, the more I have to manage. This strategy seems to have reached its expiration date and I need to actively practice more mindfulness in my life. I’m stressed because right now I’m constantly living in the future, making plans and organizing my family’s life. I’m rarely in the here and now. I’m always overly reactive and overwhelmed by everything going on around me. And I’m over stimulated. This creates an environment ripe for angst.

I decided that I needed to assess the current state of my life and realised that there is way too much going on in terms of stimulation. No wonder my anxiety levels have risen. My every day life is noisy, there’s an inordinate amount of disorder and mess, I’m perpetually multi-tasking, and I’m plugged into electrical media for most of my waking hours.

NOISE POLLUTION

This is a big one. When the decibel levels are always at an 11 on a scale of 1-10 it isn’t just annoying, it makes it impossible to concentrate, relax, or decompress. With a household of 7 people I don’t expect it to be quiet. It is completely unfeasible. But it is vital to have pockets of time where my ears and mind can get a reprieve. Otherwise it literally drives me crazy. Since all three of my kids are at home (thanks to the summer holidays), the noise has amped up and the moments of respite have been few and far between. Now more than ever I have to be vigilant about taking my hour of yoga or working out each day to get that break from the racket.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world
CLUTTER

Right now, I’m renovating my apartment in Manila and preparing to move into a new house in Singapore. This means that for the past several months, attention to clutter has become very lax. The level of disorder in both places makes me feel perennially tired and distressed. The environment we live in has a correlative effect on our mental state. Cluttered spaces leave you feeling overwhelmed and uneasy. To combat living in a perpetual state of chaos I have employed professional organizers in both Manila and Singapore to help me declutter and organize both places.

MULTI TASKING

We all think multi tasking is great and it can be every once in a while, but trying to do more than one thing at a time creates quite a bit of stress. The stress hormone cortisol levels in your brain rise when you multi task which can overstimulate your brain. I always have a never-ending list of to-dos and just looking at it sometimes propels me into a cloud of despair. I have to actively retrain myself to focus on one thing at a time.

GADGET OVERUSE

If I had to pick the prime reason that I am stressed out of all those things I mentioned it would have to be the amount of time I spend on my gadgets. The level of connectedness is both a blessing and a curse. Statistics have said that Americans are on their electronic media for and average of 11 hours out of their day (I’m pretty sure Filipinos are on par with this statistic if not worse). That’s almost half the time you are awake, so if you figure in your sleep time then you know that’s definitely way too much. Overuse of electronics has been connected to psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world
Neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, states that repeatedly checking emails, texts, and Facebook constitutes a neural addiction. Recently, I instituted a new rule for myself that if I’m at home I put my iPhone on flight mode by 9PM so that I can unplug from the world. I’m also working on lessening my TV time. Next up will be reducing my Facebook time, although that will be my biggest challenge as the bulk of my work necessitates me being on social media.

Reducing all of these factors would greatly help me with the issue of overstimulation in my life and would in turn lead to a cutback in stress and anxiety. At least this momentary awareness exercise was me actually being mindful. I have read that when your brain is trained to be mindful, you are actually modifying the physical configuration of it. But boy do I have a long way to go.

We’ve found some people who relate to technology in unusual and inappropriate ways.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

Let’s face it: we’re living in a wired world, and there’s no turning back. Technology permeates every aspect of human existence, from making food to making babies. And as we advance intellectually, our emotions struggle to keep up.

There are always people who can’t handle the shock of the new. The human mind is relentlessly adaptable, but the twists and turns required to plug our cortex into the Information Age are having some serious side effects, psychologically speaking.

These effects can manifest themselves in different fashions, from the criminal to the erotic. And if left untreated, they can transform into life-changing compulsions. When you’re completely surrounded by technology, it’s impossible to just walk away, no matter how unhealthy it is for you.

In this feature, we’ll spotlight nine cases of people who relate to technology in unusual and inappropriate ways. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply addicted to it. Consider these cautionary tales, and once you finish the article, unplug from the screen for a minute or two and re-evaluate your relationships.

1. Sal 9000

2. Little Wang

3. Edward Smith

4. Danny Bowman

5. Kevin Warwick

6. Anonymous Google Glass Addict

7. Li Meng

8. Velma

9. Chris Sevier

\r\nThere are always people who can’t handle the shock of the new. The human mind is relentlessly adaptable, but the twists and turns required to plug our cortex into the Information Age are having some serious side effects, psychologically speaking.\r\n

\r\nThese effects can manifest themselves in different fashions, from the criminal to the erotic. And if left untreated, they can transform into life-changing compulsions. When you’re completely surrounded by technology, it’s impossible to just walk away, no matter how unhealthy it is for you.\r\n

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SPECIAL REPORT

CNN STUDENT NEWS

(CNN Student News) — June 7, 2006

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks for logging on! I’m Carl Azuz, and you’ve found the first CNN Student News Webcast of the summer! Now you obviously know what you’re doing, when it comes to the Internet. And through video games, MP3 players, and Internet-capable cell phones, one thing is certain for many American teenagers: You guys are wired! So this week, we’re going to take a look at what you’re plugged into. Beginning with a report from Heidi Collins, about the possible effects of all this multimedia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN REPORTER: Its dinner time at the Cox family, but no one is rushing to the table. 14 year-old Bronte is busy at the computer IM-ing, checking Myspace.com, listening to music and talking on the phone – ALL at the same time. Her twin brother, Piers is doing his own juggling act. He’s watching South Park, playing a computer video game and IM-ing with friends.

GEORGINA COX, MOTHER: They’re in their own little worlds and its so hard to get through to them.

COLLINS: For mom and dad, dinner seems like a nightly battle.

STEPHEN COX, FATHER: Its intensely hard to pry them away. You get used to this insane lack of attention.

COLLINS: It’s always been tough to get teens to turn off the TV or computer, but kids like Bronte and Piers present a new challenge. They are part of what some call “Generation M”. teens who like “media multi-tasking.”

DON ROBERTS, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, COMMUNICATIONS PROF.: More and more today, kids are spending more and more time using two and three and possibly four media simultaneously.

COLLINS: It’s the art of juggling between video games, instant messaging and Google searches And a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study says that half of all 8 to 18 year olds use more than one media tool most of the time.

Its not that kids are spending more time using electronic media. that actually stayed the same at 6 hrs and 20 minutes every day. But by playing with more gadgets at once, it’s closer to taking in 8 Ѕ hours of media time every day. Piers prides himself on being a better multi-tasker than his dad.

PIERS COX: He might have music playing, and also e-mailing and typing. That’s about all he can pretty much do. I can watch DVDs, IM, Play games and do it all at the same time.

COLLINS: But experts warn that multi-tasking even when you’re young has its liabilities.

DAVID MEYER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Given what we know about the nature of human mental processes and the wiring in the brain it’s pretty clear that they, as well as adults and most everybody else suffers in terms of efficiency and performance when they try to multitask.

COLLINS: Stephen and Georgina worry that their kids school work is suffering too.

STEPHEN COX: There isn’t enough passionate time or focused time spent on things. For example, if your studying history and IMing on the phone and doodling here, you’re not really immersing yourself in the whole story. you’re just glossing over it.

DON ROBERTS: On the one hand kids are processing more information, the question is, are they processing it at the same depth.

COLLINS: Right now there is no evidence that kids who spend a lot of time multi-tasking do worse in school or that it affects their comprehension. But research in this area has just begun. For the Coxes, the first priority is to get everyone around the dinner table every night.

STEPHEN COX: There’s too much time spent on some of these gadgets and we’re taking steps to limit that time.

COLLINS: Heidi Collins, CNN, New York.

AZUZ: Time for some Fast Facts! Teenagers, lend us your ears: Technology may be giving you a head start on hearing loss. In a recent survey, more than half the teens who took part said they’d had ringing in their ears at one point or another, or that they’ve had to pump up the volume on the radio or TV. Now there’s no proof that MP3 players or cell phones could be hurting your ears. But 82 percent of American teens say they use cell phones regularly. And tens of millions of Americans have bought MP3 players. So the important thing to keep in mind is to keep the volume down!

Download This!

AZUZ: The bad news is, that’s not the only danger of being connected. Some folks are having trouble unplugging at night when it’s time to hit the sack. On the upside in wireless news, cell phones may be getting cheaper. assuming you’ve got time, instead of money, to burn. Deanna Morawski brings us more on these stories, and tours us around a sometimes weird, wired world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEANNA MORAWSKI, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: Download this — you may soon be calling your friends courtesy of Diet Mountain Dew or X-Box. Virgin Mobile plans to kick off a new service next week that’ll let customers of its prepaid plans earn free minutes for watching and reading advertisements Users can watch 30-second ads, after which they’ll be asked some questions. Correct answers will score one minute of airtime The company currently charges 25 cents a minute under its Minute2Minute plan. That means a customer who watches 75 ads could earn almost 19 dollars in airtime for less than an hour’s work That’s a pretty penny more than you’d make flipping burgers!

If you’ve had your fill of spam recently — no, not this kind. the e-mail kind — you can breathe a sigh of relief. One of the world’s most notorious spammers is no longer a threat to your sanity. A 24-year-old spam king from Texas – who’s admitted sending as many as 25 million e-mails a day – has settled lawsuits with Microsoft and the state of Texas It’s costing him at least a million bucks, forcing him to sell his house and BMW, and requiring him to stop sending the nuisance e-mails. Now, instead of overloading strangers’ inboxes, the University of Texas grad plans to help Internet companies fight spam.

If you’re fighting to stay awake in class, a recent national study says it could be because you’re too wired – literally. Today’s teens have more computers, cell phones, TV’s and video games in their bedrooms than ever before – and are staying up later because of them, it says. As a result, high school students are more likely to fall asleep in class, be late – or miss school altogether, and fall asleep at the wheel. Experts say an optimal night’s sleep for teens is nine hours. So if you’re getting less than that, you might think about unplugging a bit earlier. For CNN Student News, I’m Deanna Morawski.

Travel writer Liz Beatty connects with the sound of silence in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.

My biggest fear pushing off on a backcountry river trip through southwest Yukon to Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park is not grizzlies, it’s surviving device-free — a cold turkey digital detox. The depth of my dependency surprises even me. I mean, I am not that young. Still, I cannot remember the last time I’ve gone 48 hours entirely unwired, much less 11 days. Night one, my brain races inside my tiny orange-and-white expedition tent, with only the relentless shhhhhh of glacial headwaters outside. I realize now this weaning is not just from time actually on devices, it’s more the constant promise of connection — to anyone, any idea, anyplace, any time. Who knew it was so hard to be so present?

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired worldGlacier Bay National Park is one of the world’s largest international protected areas. Photo courtesy Gary Arndt.

My first hurdle: Denying my inner worrywart — texting to remind my two sons to feed the dog, to check that stove burners are turned off; circling back for feedback on a filed draft. It takes days for these involuntary impulses to fade. But as they do, I’m clearer about how much stress goes with being reachable 24/7/365, indulging my illusion of control over what can and should be happening in almost any facet of life, all of the time. Somewhere, coursing through the torrent of the Upper Tat’s long narrow canyon, this gnawing hyper-vigilance begins washing away.

Eventually, the physical rhythms and rituals of river life take over. As I load and unload gear from our rafts, as tent poles and flysheets are put up and taken down, my mind wanders, working through strife, pondering the next big idea. There’s infinite mental breathing room, no opportunity for digital distraction. This is nature’s therapy couch.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired worldThere are 15 tidewater glaciers in the park. Photo courtesy Gary Arndt.

By day eight, I’m sipping 100-year-old scotch from a plastic camp mug, chilled by 10,000-year-old ice chiselled that day from a newborn iceberg. The crack and boom of ancient calving glaciers provides pre-dinner music, and far up and away, our view — the ice-draped peaks of the world’s largest non-polar ice cap. I realize it has been three days since I’ve even thought of my husband and two boys. No one is grabbing a phone or selfie stick to grin, snap, and tweet. There is no instant share value here. Our entire network of family, colleagues, followers and obligations is far from a share or speed dial away. Instead, this moment is deeply private, but weirdly bigger and all consuming.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired worldMount Fairweather is the park’s tallest peak at 4,700m or 15,300 ft. Photo courtesy Gary Arndt.

Our journey ends just short of the Pacific. By now, instead of missing my devices, I’m sappy and nostalgic. I’m old enough to remember when backpacking 101 meant lugging around a three-pound dog-eared Let’s Go guide and promising to call my parents every 10 days from an American Express office. Without the extraordinary resources of our glorious wired world, so many things about wanderlust then were harder, more limited. Except this: the liberation of feeling utterly, entirely away — like one anonymous untethered speck in a vast awe-inspiring world.

Thank you US National Parks Service and happy 100th — still protecting some of America’s most staggering natural treasures, and of late, some of the world’s last best places to truly unplug.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.

We’ve found some people who relate to technology in unusual and inappropriate ways.

Plugged in...stressed out how to decompress in a wired world

Let’s face it: we’re living in a wired world, and there’s no turning back. Technology permeates every aspect of human existence, from making food to making babies. And as we advance intellectually, our emotions struggle to keep up.

There are always people who can’t handle the shock of the new. The human mind is relentlessly adaptable, but the twists and turns required to plug our cortex into the Information Age are having some serious side effects, psychologically speaking.

These effects can manifest themselves in different fashions, from the criminal to the erotic. And if left untreated, they can transform into life-changing compulsions. When you’re completely surrounded by technology, it’s impossible to just walk away, no matter how unhealthy it is for you.

In this feature, we’ll spotlight nine cases of people who relate to technology in unusual and inappropriate ways. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply addicted to it. Consider these cautionary tales, and once you finish the article, unplug from the screen for a minute or two and re-evaluate your relationships.

1. Sal 9000

2. Little Wang

3. Edward Smith

4. Danny Bowman

5. Kevin Warwick

6. Anonymous Google Glass Addict

7. Li Meng

8. Velma

9. Chris Sevier

\r\nThere are always people who can’t handle the shock of the new. The human mind is relentlessly adaptable, but the twists and turns required to plug our cortex into the Information Age are having some serious side effects, psychologically speaking.\r\n

\r\nThese effects can manifest themselves in different fashions, from the criminal to the erotic. And if left untreated, they can transform into life-changing compulsions. When you’re completely surrounded by technology, it’s impossible to just walk away, no matter how unhealthy it is for you.\r\n

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