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Unplug to Plug In

A couple of months ago, I watched this Netflix film called Airplane Mode. The film, completely in Portuguese, was about a social media influencer named Ana who is addicted to her phone. After multiple car accidents (related to being on the phone), Ana's parents confiscate her phone; and send her to live with her ornery grandpa who lives on a rural farm. At first Ana goes through serious digital withdrawals, however she slowly begins to adjust to her non-digital life. In the digital detox process, she meets someone important and finds her true purpose in life.

Digital detox is a good thing. Endless scrolling can be harmful for our brains. Not only is it information overload, but it has a negative effect on our mental health. Studies have shown continuously scrolling increases depression and anxiety, while also lowering our attention spans (fun fact, reading a book does the opposite). Based on a study conducted at Penn State University, the action of mindless scrolling comes from the fear of missing out or FOMO. Here's my argument, if being on social media prevents you from enjoying life with your friends and family, aren't you missing out on real life? Because social media is not real life. In many cases it's fake and filtered. Instead of being constantly connected to our phones or other digital devices, we should plug into the people and experiences happening around us. Texting someone is not the same as being with them in person.

So how do we operate in this digital world? In an era where technology is important, but so is our mental well being. I think discipline is needed. It can't be all digital, all the time. Does that mean we have to forgo all technology and revert to the little house on the prairie days? No. Technology is a tool, but it must be used in moderation. We were born in the time we live in for a reason. It's good to use the technology that's available to us (assuming that it's not harming ourselves or other people). It's not all doom and gloom, there are positives to technology, and opportunities that did not exist 100 years ago. But (and I stress this part), it's good to take a tech break; to literally break away from phones, laptops, and social media.

Within this last year, Heineken released a commercial titled "the closer". The commercial starts with a bunch of people at the office working late. One office mate opens a bottle of Heineken and suddenly there's a power outage. Turns out opening a bottle of Heineken causes work apps to shut down. So the more bottles opened, the more devices that lose power. This causes the people working late to be off WiFi. So instead everyone goes to the bar and enjoys a Heineken with their friends. The commercial ends with the tagline Heineken: for a fresh world. To me this commercial is absolutely brilliant. Post covid, the workplace has transformed to a hybrid model. But when you work from home, it can be hard to determine when the work day ends, and when your personal or social life begins. You can apply this to social media and phone usage as well. It's important to unplug from the digital and plug into the present. At the end of the day, technology is a double edged sword. It can connect us, but also divide us. Which makes wielding it wisely all the more important.

If you haven't seen "the closer" Heineken commercial, you can watch it here

I also wrote an article a few years back on how social media affects student productivity, and the ways in which the brain is effected psychologically.

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