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Keeping Our Humanity in a Robotic World

Strategies for Thriving in the Digital Age

Touchpoints for maintaining well-being when interacting with technology. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/miles_studio

Have you ever seen The Matrix, Terminator, Minority Report or Ex Machina? All of these movies have one thing in common: they focus on the concept of transhumanism—the idea that technological innovation can help us surpass our human limitations and make us, literally, superhuman. While these movies may be labeled science fiction, their reality may actually be closer than we think.

Simply take a step back and look at our daily lives. We are already constantly attached to our beloved technological devices. Whether we’re on our smartphone, tablet, or laptop the notion is the same — we are constantly connected via emails, scheduling apps, and social platforms. These technological devices have become our “transhuman” extension — our way to become superhuman and do more in less time.

While technology may have helped us become the most efficient era in human history, too few have stopped to wonder; is this actually a good thing?

The answer, of course, is no. We must be able to pause and make intentional choices about our technology habits. We must consciously cultivate a set of healthy tech practices to maintain our mental wellbeing, not only for ourselves but for those around us as well.

It sounds easy enough, but in a world governed by constant connectivity through smart devices, how can we even minimally cut the proverbial chord?

1. Restrict Your Feeds

Although it may seem like our every decision has become dependent on information absorbed through digital devices, sometimes too much information is a bad thing. It can cause information overload and make it more difficult to make decisions.

Just like most things we do in life, everything is better in moderation. We need to focus on the quality of our technology use, rather than on the quantity. No one needs to check their email every 30 seconds. A recent study actually found that checking email less frequently significantly decreased stress, which led to increased social-connectedness.

It is up to us to set our own boundaries that keep us in the loop without becoming digital drones. Try limiting the number of times you check information feeds (email, social media, news, sports) to three times a day.

2. Use Tech As Tool Not A Distraction

It’s easy to get frustrated by the constant pings of urgency coming from our devices. Studies have found that as we become more accustomed to communicating through devices, we are losing the ability to connect on a deep, personal level in real time.

Let’s pivot that finding. How can we use our technology to improve communication, rather than hinder it? Skype allows us to cross geographical boundaries to see and talk to friends, family, and coworkers who would otherwise be unreachable. Videoconferencing and remote desktop technology allow many of us to work from home when a child is sick.

For all of the blame we place on technology, there are just as many reasons to be grateful — it’s simply about how we use it. Try to find a few apps that allow you to communicate effectively, and get rid of everything else. There is no need for technology in our lives that isn’t serving a positive purpose.

3. Be A Digital Role Model

Multitasking may look productive, but it is, in fact, counterproductive for critical thinking. If you practice these poor habits, it’s quite likely that those who spend time with you may be picking up on them too.

Set up rules for yourself to model digital citizenship. When someone approaches you for help, put away your phone and don’t glance at your computer. Give them your undivided attention. Take out your earbuds to say hello when someone walks into the room. You’ll be surprised at how much your behavioral choices can affect those around you.

In this uber-connected vortex we live in, it is essential that we consciously decide how we want to use technology so that we don’t lose our humanness in our increasingly robotic world. We need to be able to not just coexist with technology but to thrive with it. By following the steps I’ve outlined above, we can move toward a harmonious technology culture—one that will not allow our devices to turn us into robots

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