#116 – Imprisoned by Our Phones – A Story About Technology and How to Use It Mindfully

Technology prison
Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay 

A Story About Technology

The cops pulled me over. I knew it was bad, although I didn’t know exactly what I did. It was dusk and the air was restless. The mood of that evening reminded me of the first episode of the Wonder Years when Kevin went for a walk, only to find Winnie in the forest after her brother had just died in Vietnam. Except with this story, there is no comforting end and no Percy Sledge to ease my woes.

Instead of coming to my driver’s side window and reading me my Miranda rights, the cop opened my back door, sat down as if a taxi passenger, and read them. An unusual practice I thought — but who am I to discern protocol at this point.

I was being taken to jail still not knowing what I did. I looked to my passenger side once more as a beckoning call for someone to save me. I could have sworn someone was next to me earlier.

We got to the police station and the redolent smell of urine, sweat, and week-old Chinese food permeated through the cemented thick grey walls.

I was fingerprinted, asked to smile before taking my picture, and then thrown into a cell with a pimp, a crackhead, and a gentleman in a nice suit. Of the four of us, he’s the only one that didn’t belong. He probably committed some white-collar crime like going to an underground Thai massage parlor or buying cocaine from the dealer that just happened to be under-cover that day.

The prison was horrible. The four of us cramped in one room with a broken toilet in the center of the room.

A few hours before lights out we were given some food — but you could hardly call it that. The mashed potatoes looked rancid and had a yellow hue that could easily be mistaken for butter — but wasn’t. The fork had some brown crud on it that you couldn’t beat off with all the soap in the world.

We also received an unmarked bag that we all opened immediately. It was a phone. We powered them up in unison. We were instantly hooked.

The next day we were released. We had a choice. Either go home and give up the device or stay one more day in the slammer. We chose the latter.

*disclaimer – this is a story. I have never been to prison. However, I am dangerous. I’m a hazard to myself. lol.

What Black Mirror Taught Me About Technology

social media
Image by Tumisu, please consider ☕ Thank you! 🤗 from Pixabay

Perhaps my story is too dramatic and maybe slightly reminiscent of the Netflix series Black Mirror, but it still makes you think about our world and how technology plays a role in it.

In one of my favorite futuristic episodes titled “nosedive” people have contact lenses imprinted on their eyelids. This enables them to see another’s rating. If you’re perfect you are a 5. Everyone has a smartphone that does the rating. If someone snubs you the wrong way or smiles at you — you are able to rate them accordingly.

The main character was a 4.1. She was on her way to becoming a 4.5 or higher. With a high rating, she could enjoy the comforts of living in a wealthy community, first-class seats, and hobnobbing with other elites, but shit goes sour and a string of events leaves her at a 0. At which time she goes to prison. She has her contacts removed and her phone taken away.

After her lenses were removed she was able to see the dust particles in the air. She started to cry with a joyful disposition. She saw another prisoner across the room and they had a verbal confrontation. They both felt free because there was no fear of being judged or living the fake picture-perfect life they did on the outside. They both were liberated.

The Irony is that the first time she felt freedom was when she was in prison.

Technology and Addiction

technology addiction
Image by Лечение Наркомании from Pixabay

Just put the phone away. Easier said than done, right. Phones are addicting. The never-ending novelty of having a device that can practically get you anything is scary. I don’t think our monkey brains are equipped to handle the data, the endless scrolling, and the information we have access to.

Technology is wonderful when used consciously but through my own experience and what I have observed, it’s clear that the mass consumption of this digital pixelated world wreaking carnage on our minds.

Mental health is a bigger concern these days. Therapists cannot keep up with demand, and we are becoming a world where our egos bruise easily.

I don’t blame technology because it’s responsible for so much good in our world. However, with power, comes great responsibility, and using technology mindfully is increasingly important.

1. Discipline is a hard thing to come by unless you are completely aware — that’s why most great inventions for the masses become problematic.

2. Alcohol and other recreational drugs are great in moderation and can stimulate creative thinking and can make social gatherings pleasing, but they have become reprehensible tools for the addicted.

3. A house was a great piece of technology but now people have more space than they need, thereby destroying the terrain of this planet.

4. Planting vegetables and eating animals we raised was once an admirable living but now we are involved in the degradation of our soil and factory farming.

5. The smartphone is a powerful piece of technology, yet if you ask many of my millennial counterparts what’s important in life -they can’t give you the slightest answer, but if you ask them the latest in TMZ news — they will gladly share that information. We live in a culture where people will share the depressing news of the day followed right after by some nonsensical humor. Information is so ubiquitous that we don’t have the patience to empathize with any of it. We are losing the capacity to care.

I could go on and on about what I foresee, but I choose to control this moment because that’s all I have.

Tips That Have Helped Me Use Technology Mindfully

Image by PatrizioYoga from Pixabay 

Perhaps you don’t have this problem. You’re able to step away from your phone and use it only when needed. I’m jealous because this isn’t me. Here are some things I have adopted so I can use technology mindfully.

How to Use Social Media and Still Be Happy

The people we see, and the things they do are just colors, pixelations, and 1’s and 0’s organized in different patterns. Although the image of what we see may seem real, it will never be an alternative to having a real conversation, sharing a meal, or hugging a loved one.

Virtual reality is now in our world. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am worried for the next generation. I was fortunate enough to be born in a time when all the neighborhood kids rode their bikes outside.

In a past article, I listed habits on how to live a simpler life, and one of these habits is unfollowing people you don’t interact with on a daily basis. It will clear your feed and your mind.

Not Everything Has to Be Answered Immediately

Everyone wants answers instantly. It’s the age of convenience. However, I have gotten into the habit but of calling others back when I’m ready.

I won’t reply to an e-mail much less talk to a person unless I am in a state of mind where I can listen with intent and communicate clearly. With technology, we have so many things being thrown at us. Having time to breathe will make your time spent with others meaningful, but do it on your own terms.

Technology Detox

I’ve adopted a few practices. Some I am even ashamed to tell you, but what the hell. I don’t take my phone into the bathroom anymore. If I do have it, I don’t use it. Life is simpler because I just worry about number one or two.

I also don’t bring my phone to bed anymore. I’ll plug it in away from me. I’ll read before sleeping, journal, or just lay down and reminisce about good times with my mother, who passed away.

News 

It’s important to be informed about the world, but most of the news we view today has cleverly designed algorithms associated with them. These biased sources only entrench us deeper into our preconceived ideologies.

There is still value in knowing about what’s going on in the world. However, I am careful in deciphering what news I will let consume my mind and time. Our time is limited.

Conclusion

The moment we are born our time is ticking. How do you want to spend your time? Is it relishing in the lives of others through social media? Is it getting worked over politics in which you control nothing? Is it constantly looking for tips from others on what strategy to adopt without ever adopting anything?

You have all the answers within you.

You are much stronger and smarter than you give yourself credit for.

Trust yourself and you can tap into something unique and special to you.

These are just ideas. We all know what is good for us, but it takes an incredible amount of discipline, resilience, patience, and awareness to make this so.

I wish you only the best.

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With love,
Anand

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