Are You Too Connected?

Do you ever feel like you’re too connected? At any given moment, you can read every thought of half of your graduating class. No matter what part of the world you’re in, someone can find a way to reach you. Sign on to Twitter and ten minutes later, 300 new tweets appear. In a way, it’s reassuring. No matter where you’re living, you’re never too far from the people you love. But sometimes it’s just….too much. At any one time, I may be browsing on Facebook, writing a blog, texting, talking with someone on GChat, and sitting with Twitter open. I mean…truly, how much communication do we need?

Remember writing letters? You’d go to summer camp and write your parents a letter that went something like this:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Camp is good. Today we went swimming. I have the top bunk. Send me a package soon.


It would take a few days to get there, and then you’d wait with excitement to see when you received one in return. Today, letters are practically extinct. Even phone calls are dying, as people favor more instant yet limited conversation. And while this conversation is convenient, it’s also never-ending. Do you ever feel like your cell phone is your third limb? The other day a friend texted me and when I didn’t respond he said, “I know you’re seeing this because you always have your phone with you.”

And he was right. And maybe that’s part of the problem. How many times have you been waiting to meet someone at Starbucks and you’ve instantly whipped out your cell phone to distract yourself? I know I do it. I’ll be waiting for someone at a restaurant and will immediately turn to my phone without even realizing it. It’s not that I’m afraid of looking like a creep by myself in a restaurant, it’s that I’ve gotten so accustomed to filling my time with information that I’ve almost forgotten how to sit quietly with my own thoughts. But maybe I need to remember.

As a line from one of my favorite poems, Desiderata, says

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

We’re so used to communicating and expressing ourselves and listening to music all the time that sometimes silence feels deafening. It feels wrong or like a waste of time. But guess what? Silence is healing. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

I often log off my computer after a long day of work, e-mails and texts, and I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like I’ve had my own thoughts and other people’s thoughts running through my head at a million miles per hour. I just need to go sit on the couch. I need to take a nap.

I read a great article in this month’s Elle called “The Silent Treatment” about people who are actually paying to go to retreats where talking is forbidden. You go and meditate and spend time in beautiful surroundings, but you don’t talk. Mindless conversation is non-existent. The idea is fascinating, but it’s also so 21st-century. We are so connected that we’re overstimulating ourselves.

The thing I’ve realized is this: we have to think about how we’re spending our time. Does scrolling through Facebook every ten minutes really give you satisfaction and make you feel connected to the people you care about? Would that time be better spent in other ways, like calling a friend/relative? Another point: are you ever truly unplugged at any point? It’s important to take time each night to just unwind, whether with a significant other or friend or by yourself. Put your phone in the other room, shut your computer down, and do something you enjoy. Sometimes it feels like you’ll miss something by being away from your phone or computer, but I’m starting to realize that getting bombarded by messages all day, every day isn’t a good life choice. Take some time to just do what makes you happy.

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