Jay Rifenbary

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Disconnect From Technology

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Reflecting on our recent vacation on the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia, one of the highlights was the decision not to participate in any technology. No smart phone, no iPad, no computer, only the focus on the people, culture, nature surrounding us, and enjoying time away from the normal hustle and bustle of life. I actually took time to read a recent National Geographic that I had not done in years, and had forgotten what an enlightening and educational magazine it is. Yes, I actually read the articles, and not just viewed the pictures. My suggestion for you is to take a vacation from the world of technology at your first opportunity. Instead of punching a keypad take a hike, exercise, read, or engage in an activity that you enjoy without the use of technology. It allows you to take a step back, take a deep breath, and potentially allow a moment of peaceful reflection and perspective.

The increasing speed and momentum of how we are living is stealing much of the very joy and fulfillment of what it means to live as a human being. Granted, we are all dependent on varying forms of technology for the life we wish to have, but it is also technology that has realigned what is perceived to be important for a healthy lifestyle. The technology to create a life like video game is amazing, but is sitting in front of the television for hours on end contributing to a healthy life? There is no doubt that certain technology has contributed significantly to the availability of a sedentary lifestyle. The substantial increase in childhood obesity is one obvious result.

Could you make it through the day without texting someone? Would you know what to do with yourself if you could not check your email? Would you be able to keep your head up for more than a couple of minutes without being tempted to look down at your smart phone? Could you get through a day without logging into facebook or twitter? Am I creating anxiety for some of you when you honestly answer those questions? Are you really that important, and are you really that needed that you cannot disconnect from technology for a moment? For some, it might be frightening to even imagine how one would occupy their time without a technological device close at hand. They might actually have to entertain themselves, with their own thoughts, creativity, speech, intellect and physical abilities.

Most importantly the intentional consumption of time with technology can create a degree of neglect of the very core values that develop a well rounded and character based individual. Accountability, integrity, personal honesty, forgiveness, self-respect, kindness, resiliency, perseverance are just a sampling of core values that technology has little to do with developing. Technology certainly provides greater access to knowledge, but at the end of the day it will still be the content of your character and the values you believe in that will determine your level of happiness and contentment. With everything in life comes the necessity to make responsible choices. How you use technology to your benefit or detriment is a choice.

Anything taken to an extreme is harmful, and monitoring the balance of technology in your life with how you actually live is critical for your emotional and physical well-being. There have been times when looking up from my computer and seeing the clock, I have asked myself where did the day go? How much time is spent during the course of the day doing technological gibberish? Instead of tweeting and telling your followers you are having a cup of coffee, how about putting that energy into something relevant, and has the potential to make a difference in yourself, others and the community. The greatest joys in my life have had little to do with technology, and yet my greatest frustrations always have. I have always found that the simpler my life is the happier I tend to be, because the less I have to be responsible for. As John F. Kennedy stated, “Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all." I hope you enjoy a technology free day soon. Bon Voyage!



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