You are not your technology
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Did you ever hear someone say, "I'm a Mac person" or, "I'm Android"? We hear it all the time. I get it - for centuries people have coupled their identities to brands based on loyalty, being in the "in" group, or even a perceived sense of superiority. It's what companies want! As soon as you start to say "I'm a (fill in the brand) person," you're fitting right in with the most well-worn marketing playbook out there.
Loyalty = repeat customer = product evangelist = more customers.
It's simple, and it works almost every time.
(Photo obtained from Wikipedia)
Here's the problem, though. As soon as we decide we are a (brand X) person, we suddenly have a much harder time using our actual preferences and desires to make choices. You may not even like the latest iPhone, or maybe it's not even in your budget to upgrade that computer. But, since you're so loyal, it's hardly even a decision anymore. It's more of an impulse - a false sense of belonging to some sort of "in" group.
This is especially true in the age of social media. As soon as you "like" or "follow" a company, you are inviting them to colonize your social media feed. And, with every click to a new website, information is being gathered about your product preferences and lifestyle choices. The ads just keep coming. Your attention becomes the commodity, and we've all become more-than-happy to pay up.
At what point do we decide for ourselves which tools we'd like to use? Or, an even more critical question - at what point do we recognize that these objects are tools, not extensions of our very identity?
At what point do we recognize that these objects are tools, not extensions of our very identity?
As much as these fast-moving tech companies want you to believe you must personally identify with their products, I'm here to tell you that you do not. You are the master. The gadgets and apps are just tools to improve your life in some way. Just because I use a refrigerator every single day, and that my life is vastly improved because I have one, does not mean that I am a Frigidaire, right?
So, how do we take a step back from our technology and get some psychological distance from our gadgets?
Here are a few things to try...
Ask yourself, who are you without your (most used device)?
It's amazing to imagine there are people in this country (many, in fact) who have no idea what it feels like to roam the earth without being connected to the rest of the planet. I can't emphasize enough how grateful I am to personally remember this time well. Nevertheless, every age group in America today is experiencing a time of full-blown connectivity. Most of us are nearly always connected to an internet-accessible device, the entire day.
But, would you be you without that? Could you have a conversation with a friend without referencing a cat video on YouTube or verifying a fact on Google? How would you express yourself if you couldn't post a photo online? If there was no proof of your experience on Facebook, could you still fully enjoy the moment?
As you consider these questions, allow me to remind you how creative and interesting you are without the use of the internet, and how amazing it feels to look up and witness your own life, IRL!
Get back to basics.
I hate that it has become so hard for many of us to disconnect from our devices, but the fact is there are billions of dollars being poured into figuring out how to keep us plugged in, 24/7. It's not our fault we are so easily seduced, but it is our responsibility to wake up and start making conscious choices about our online time and purchases.
If you have gone so far down the rabbit hole that you're having trouble coming up with offline fun, here are some helpful suggestions:
Call your mother/father/best friend. Ask what has made them smile this week.
Walk outside - no destination required.
Rummage through your bookshelf, then get lost in memories and inspired writing.
Resurrect your favorite hobby from age 15.
Open that old box of photos - look at it, and enjoy.
Make cookies with a child, and eat them with milk.
Plan a get-together at your house. Send paper invitations.
Time well spent.
I think many of us have utilized all the extra time we've saved through apps and programs on...spending more time online! Doesn't this sort of defeat the purpose? If your banking app has saved you a trip to the bank, and your note-taking app has make it fast and easy to search your notes in seconds, why not reward yourself by spending the time you saved on things you want to do in life?
Every time you save some seconds online, celebrate the gift of efficiency by taking a breath, looking around you, and smiling to yourself. You'll be reducing your stress X2! Once for the efficient task completion, and again for living in the moment. Bonus!
Resist the urge to upgrade
They say delayed gratification is one of the hallmarks of maturity. Since when did we all become so immature and susceptible to every little marketing nudge? Not only is it hurting our personal bottom lines, but it is resulting in an ecological disaster!
Again, I say, you are the master, the technology is a tool. Is your tool still working? Does it just need to be repaired or updated? Then, maybe reconsider that trip to the Apple store. More and more people are actually taking a conscientious approach and resisting the urge to immediately upgrade their devices.
I love the old saying, "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." Most of us never even consider the ways we can do these things, especially related to our devices. I'm asking us all to try - here are some specifics on how to "make do" with our technology.
So, are you an Apple person? A PC person? Or, just...a person? A person who uses technology to make your life better. Imagine a world where no one could tell what kind of device you were using? What if a hammer were just a hammer, and a phone was just a phone? Would we categorize ourselves in the same way?
How much freedom could we experience in our lives if we reduced the pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest tech innovation - even just a little bit?
Now, go call your mother.