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24 September 2009

WTF Miami: Disconnect from the tech

Drifting off to sleep after a stressful day, I could feel myself begin to relax… until it happened. The vibrating buzz of my Blackberry jolted me awake and filled me with terror. It signaled another email, another task to add to my busy schedule and never-ending list of assignments. At times like these, I often find myself wanting to hurl my Blackberry out the window.

Between texts and emails received on your cell phone, “tweets” on Twitter, and Facebook messages, you can never get away from school, work or your friends. In a society that prizes constant connection and instant gratification, you must be available 24/7 and surrender your right to personal time.

Didn’t receive that email? Too bad, the sender knows it went straight to your Blackberry and expects an immediate response. Miss out on the best party of the weekend? It’s your own fault; you should have seen the event posting on Facebook.

Being responsible for messages received on every technological platform is stressful and unrealistic. However, it is a standard we are often held to by employers, teachers and peers. Though it’s frustrating, we perpetuate the issue by requiring the same in exchange for our own sacrifice.

We are caught in a high-tech catch-22. As a result of our generation’s intimate relationship with technology, we thrive on new gadgets and are excited to find new ways to connect with friends. However, this constant connection may not be such a good thing.

We must cast off this technological burden and give ourselves a much-needed break. First, we should impose a new grace period for reply. Even though you still receive messages instantly, it doesn’t mean you have to respond. We could also circumvent the issue of unnecessary e-mails and unwanted texts by hitting send with caution. If you are going to see the recipient later that day, there is no need to burden them with yet another message.

It’s also important to completely disconnect. Set aside a few hours each day when you will switch off your cell, refuse to check messages and simply relax. You deserve quiet time to yourself, which is impossible to achieve with constant barrages of e-mails and messages. If you don’t put yourself first and make time to unwind, you might end up throwing that Blackberry out the window after all.