As we discuss the role and purpose of technology in our lives, we often come to the topic of information technology addiction. I should note that I think using the terms addiction and detox to describe our relationship and use of technology is very problematic.
Digital detox refers to taking time off from your computer, phone, television, and other technological devices. It sounds simple, but by taking time away from screens, you focus on your social life without being distracted by digital devices.
A digital detox is usually voluntary and is motivated by a concern about developing addictive behaviors that some identify as an Internet addiction disorder. It may be an attempt to reduce stress and anxiety caused by the over-use of technology. It may be motivated by a desire to re-focus on offline social interactions and connections. It may be to improve one’s learning ability by decreasing distractions and eliminating multi-tasking.
During this time, you can increase mindfulness and relieve the stress that comes with constant digital connectivity.
Even with the positive impacts of the digital detox, many of which I espouse, I do not think the detox label is fitting. Before this recent craze around the term, detox referred to a medical procedure that rids the body of dangerous, often life-threatening levels of alcohol, drugs, or poison.
In truth, there are numerous benefits to networked, digital technologies. It is our understanding, use, and relationship to these texts and tools that is the problem. We need to develop better practices with these technologies and collaborate, or cooperate with them…as opposed to being co-opted by them.
How to Train Your Dragon
One of my favorite films to watch with the kids is How to Train Your Dragon.
The basic plot of the movie is that a Viking village named Berk is located on a remote island and is frequently attacked by dragons. The dragons take livestock, damage property, and terrorize the community.
The elders of the village believe that the dragons should be feared. They hunt, capture, and kill the dragons. Those that do not fear or respect the dragons are gobbled up or quickly swept off to never be seen again. Dragons and fighting dragons is the way of life in Berk.
Into this setting comes one of the heroes of the film, Hiccup. Hiccup is a progressive teen that lives in Berk. Through a series of events, he is thrown into a dragon fighting school and begins to understand that dragons can be studied, understood, and possibly trained.
Without ruining the ending, Berk begins a new era, with humans and dragons living in harmony.
Hugging the Digital Dragon
The term digital dragon was first coined by Gartner, a global research and advising firm. It refers to the radical digital disruption that all industries around the globe are undergoing. It is a potentially very powerful force if tamed but could be very destructive if not.
Gartner suggests that to tame the digital dragon organizations need to harness the power of big data, mobile and social technologies, and cloud computing.
Instead of fearing, or resigning ourselves to the disruptive, auspicious powers of digital technologies, we should instead be driven, progressive, unafraid, and willing to take risks.
Don’t slay the digital dragon. Hug the digital dragon.
It is all about perspective. We can stand one foot outside of the washing machine and look in at the torment of the spin cycle. Or we can sit inside with the clothes, suds, and water as the contents are thrashed about.
We need to notice and name these technologies for what they are. Once we notice them, we can start a new relationship with screentime. As we notice these connections being too positive or too negative, we can step back and once again notice, name, and reclaim our relationship with these texts and tools.
Being deliberate about our relationship with the digital dragon will pay incredible dividends.
Sometimes I wrestle with the dragons. Sometimes we just snuggle.