In today's modern society social media is an integral part of our lives.

It can be a very useful tool to enhance relationship with others. We can connect with our family and friends irrespective of location. We can share our thoughts with each other and keep up to date with old friends from the past. It allows us to reach out to others across continents and share cultures.

We are at an arm's reach away from others. With such ease of access it can be easy to lose touch with the people directly around you. To disconnect from those in our everyday lives and develop habits that distract from our enjoyment of each other.

This article explores some practical approaches to help us balance the advantages of technology whilst retaining the spirit of human connection.

Notifications

We are naturally curious creatures by nature. The normal response when our devices sound a notification is to look. As we check our devices more frequently we develop an unconscious habit of checking automatically irrespective of whether they sound or not. Apparently the average person tends to look at their smart phones around 150 times a day.

This distracts us to what we are currently engaged in at the present moment. It can reduce our attention span and ability to focus continually. We can modify our device settings to silent or reduce these notifications depending on the situation.

More importantly we need to learn to alter our mental approach to these notifications. Do not let them distract us from enjoying the present moment. Perhaps we are enjoying a meal or a movie. Or maybe we are engaged in a conversation.  Be aware that online messages do not need to be checked instantly. Make a conscious effort to access stored content at a time that suits.

Sharing with Others

When we are experiencing joy or excitement, sharing with others can add to our delight long after the moment has passed. Be careful though not to be so fully engaged in capturing and sharing the moment online that it distracts from the physical reality in front of you. It could be a beautiful scenic landscape or an exhilarating performance on display or even a delicious meal about to be devoured.  

We should focus on fully appreciating the fleeting moment before it passes. Sharing with others is a secondary task in reflection. Also, if we are in the company of others, then those who we are actually experiencing the moment together with would gain the most appreciation of your delight.

Curiosity Killed the Cat

Media sites allow us to keep in touch with those dear to us. It allows us to jump into the lives of our friends via the information they share. Even for distant acquaintances we can glimpse into their lives without actually contacting them.

Be conscious of the time spent looking at others. If too much emphasis is focused on this we lose the opportunity for living our own lives. Be aware that the lives posted by others are just a glimpse of their reality that they decide to share. Whether they choose to paint a picture of a perfect existent or a life of impending doom, this may not fully reflect their actual lives.

It is said that those who spend too much time looking at others people's lives haven't got much going in their own lives.  Enjoy living fleeting moments of your friend's lives but do not lose focus of your own meaningful existence.

Offline Solitude

Our senses are constantly being bombarded by a continuous stream of media around us. To balance ourselves within it can be refreshing to take some time out from such stimuli. We can make a conscious decision to temporary go offline or even switch off devices completely for a target specific period depending on one's circumstances.

After a period of media solitude the mind becomes more settled and, we are able to fully embrace the use of technology again.

Social media has become such an acceptable part of society across cultures. Apparently, (accordingly to a UN report) more people in the world have access to a smart phone than they do to a toilet. There are no formal guidelines to how we use this device which is available to us 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  

It must therefore be our responsibility to balance our habits and learn to maximize full use of the benefits of technology without losing touch with the essence of our human nature.

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