We live in an age when most people spend their days working “overtime,” flicking through tiny snippets of information instead of reading books, swiping through thousands of images in a day, juggling kids, family and friends, all the while using SMS to communicate because it’s faster than speaking.
The modern notion and definition of “busy” is completely different than it was in the past. Somehow, our capitalist consumer culture tells us that doing more in less time is a good thing, the best way to exist. Is this really the way we are meant to operate? Are we really “busy” all day? Are we really achieving more? Is this healthy for us as individuals and as a society?
Everyone is getting busier all the time…
When was the last time you didn’t use the word “busy” to describe how you were doing, when asked?
The millennial generation has been trained to believe that a packed, grinding daily schedule is the optimal form of existence: the more output you create for your boss, husband or wife, children and blog, the better. The more e-mails you answer, the more food you buy, the more TV shows you watch – the happier you’ll be. You’re accomplishing stuff. We are living in the “Age of Business.” Have you ever stopped to wonder where this mode of thinking originated?
How do we define “Busy”?
If you’re under the impression that being “busy” means having a lot of things to do and not enough time – you’re wrong. “Busy” is a term we’ve given a certain meaning to, but it is essentially a state of mind.
Being or feeling “busy” involves worrying about one’s responsibilities, addiction to e-mail and smartphones, and a feeling of being “always-on” and suffering from a lack of concentration. “Busy” is the opposite feeling of mindfulness – a state of being focused on a particular task or moment.
An article in The Guardian, written by Alice Wignall, best describes the difference between work and busy-ness: “I am not often busy. I sometimes work hard, but that’s different. You can be hard at work on a poem or conducting experimental brain surgery, but you wouldn’t call that busy.”
The Rise Of The Slow Tech Movement
There has been a noticeable reaction to the perceived quickening pace of our lives in the past few years, in the form of “slow” movements: slow food, slow development, slow fashion, etc. All of these philosophies share an emphasis and concern with the quality as opposed to quantity and a re-focusing of the notion that “more” and “faster” equal better. A person who believes in a “slow” way of life doesn’t abandon modern technology but uses it in such a way that enhances everyday life and doesn’t subjugate it. “Slow tech,” as the concept is referred to, argues that life isn’t all about efficiency and productivity – these two keywords of millennial life should take a backseat to quality and meaning.
Slow tech also believes in “interaction” and works to further it: interaction with people in real time – not on a screen and not via “likes” or “comments.” For slow tech, the real-life moment is more valuable than the selfie documenting it.
Slow tech uses technology for work and productivity, but aims to put limits on the amounts involved – rethinking where and when technology is appropriate in everyday life.
How You Can Slow Down Your Own Life
Cutting down your use of technology can have a beneficial effect on your overall wellbeing and mental health. Here are a few suggestion on how to adopt a “slow tech” way of life:
1. Delete your accounts on social media and re-focus your attention on actual friends in your real life.
2. Read book and cultivate attention for longer periods of time.
3. Turn off push-notifications on your smartphone.
4. Choose one day a week to be screen-free and abstain from using gadgets and computers on that day.
5. Stop checking e-mails after 5:00 PM.
6. Make an effort to take a walk once a day or at least once a week. Get outdoors, breathe in fresh air, and start to appreciate nature or your urban surroundings.
7. Decide that all social situations: meals, parties, movies – will be phone-free.
8. Come up with an “information diet” that is realistic for your life. Set limits to how you use your computer and smartphone apps. For example, decide that you will check Facebook and your favorite blogs only once a day.
All of these tips will help you get down to earth again and enjoy the real things in life such as family and friends. If you have any tips on what to do to slow down our techie lives, let us know in the comments below…