Right now, as you begin to read the words of this article, your focus homes onto this digital write-up, while simultaneously taking your focus away from the real world around you. Perhaps at this very moment, you’re being gazed upon from afar, unknowingly. This is the digital world, a place that increasingly demands your attention as we all take part in this monumental transition. With each passing day, we’re finding more and more technological platforms to interact with, and the very nature of how we experience our reality is drastically altering.
What I wish to discuss then, is a phenomenon so new, that we can’t refer to historic guidance to aid us, nor can we be confident in our predictions on what is to come. This is an uncharted frontier like no other, and it’s growing at an astounding rate. How you respond to it, can literally alter the experience of life itself.
I’m talking about the time you spend immersed in the digital world on any given day. Which vastly shifts, depending on who you ask of course. But what is certain at least, is that even the most digitally averse amongst us, spends more time today within the realms of technology than ever before. And it is this process, which continues to grow exponentially, as our personal environments continue to be flanked by the limitless distractions of technology.
Firstly, I wish to make it clear that I am absolutely ok with this realisation. I see the endless potential of technology and the opportunities it presents to all mankind. But make no mistake, I’m not naive to the consequences of technological mismanagement and our misplaced attitudes towards it. This is as good a time as any, to begin a discussion that perhaps isn’t as common as it should be, on the issues that may be encountered, and the benefits within reach to us all, as we move into this uncharted territory together as a species.
For those of you who are directly opposed to the direction we’re heading in, is it perhaps through the fear that we’re potentially going to lose something we’ll never be able to take back? But what if that isn’t a bad thing? Is it not, a great thing to strive for — the management of one’s life and digital persona, working together in harmony to improve one’s own wellbeing? Transhumanism is a reality within our grasp and the limits of one’s potential only seem to be increasing with the advancement of technology.
As a species, we have lived a certain way for approximately 99.99% of our evolutionary history and now the game of life is shifting to something so radically different that the chance to mock or refrain from accepting this realisation exists no longer.
And it is this rapid shift that I speak of, that has resulted in the realignment of our priorities towards the digital world. Increasingly more time is spent in front of our screens and less of it into the real world. I figure it is here, where many of us internally witness our first protest. We can already see large swaths of the population looking down at their screens more and more, and less towards the actual world around them. Even on a primal level, with little thought, it’s quite simple for anybody to identify the problems of this behaviour. Simply spend 5 minutes in a busy public area as you observe the people around you – Then watch the passersby, evidently lacking public situational awareness as their attention is served elsewhere. But does this natural disdain towards some behaviours of the modern world, stem from a distaste at viewing others engaged with things that aren’t real, at the expense of what IS real?
“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects?”
— Charlie Brooker, creator of the anthology series Black Mirror.
But what exactly is real? The obvious answer in this context would be the tangible environment we live within. (The things that we can actually touch and hold within our material world.) But this distinction is becoming ever more clouded, as we dilute this question with increasingly more technological advances. Notably more so, now that we can achieve rapid tangible results from our homes – (Finding your future partner on a dating website, purchasing essential resources while sitting on the toilet or performing a high definition aerial reconnaissance of the area you’re about to hike, from the comfort of your own bed…) As we continue to see the numerous overlaps, it’s clear that our priorities will inevitably shift from the real world, to exploit the new opportunities and possibilities materialising in the digital world.
FINDING YOUR BALANCE
And now to the fundamental point of the article. It’s not often that I choose to use my own antidotal experiences to explain a concept like this. However, I feel if I didn’t, it would be a missed opportunity to explain my thought process accurately.
You see, I am one who finds great pleasure through my writing online. The Capable Men platform demands some serious time behind the screen, certainly when you add up the entire process required for maintaining an online blog! Over the previous year alone, this website has reached tens of thousands of people worldwide and the tangible results of my work are very clear to me. However, this investment of time and resources has the potential to compromise my real world obligations at any given moment, if I allow it to do so of course. The struggle is real folks – One minute you’re questioning if you have spelt the word consciousness correctly, then the next minute you remember that you have a dog in the house that is fully dependent on you to survive.
Joking aside, I’m sure many of you reading this piece, equally share digital commitments and you can hopefully agree with me that this is a difficult balance to maintain at times. This becomes even more difficult when your digital projects begin to outnumber your real world projects.
So when the screen time begins to mount up, it becomes absolutely essential to consciously acknowledge your goals and prioritise what needs to be achieved with each day in both realms. I created a Time Management Guide not long ago that covers some tried and tested methods that overlap with this entire concept. Feel free to check it out if you’re looking for some guidance in managing your daily schedule.
Health, relationships and opportunities all have the potential to sink when you aimlessly jump in and out of your tech with little thought. This truly doesn’t have to be a problem once you acknowledge this phenomenon and align your goals effectively.
One gentleman who is a testament to this aforementioned point, is arguably the world’s best pound for pound Mixed Martial Artist, Demetrious Johnson. (AKA: Mighty Mouse) For the unfamiliar readers amongst you, Mr Johnson is the current Flyweight champion of the world in the UFC (A title he has held and successfully defended numerous times since its formation in 2012.) Finally, the champ is a husband and a father to 2 children, as we wrap up this man’s brief introduction.
Now I’m sure you can all respect the relentless demands of fatherhood, combined with the fierce obligations of fine-tuning a fighting craft to protect a world title that has now become synonymous with his name. But that doesn’t stop our champ having a serious passion for playing video games. Mr Johnson regularly streams his gaming adventures on his Twitch feed which is followed and viewed by over 80,000+ followers (At the time of this write-up) truly a harmonious example of the passions of man and technology doing so well together.
The equilibrium of this phenomenon is clear, but the opportunities at stake are perhaps more abstruse. This is a concept so fresh, that many of us still hold a contemporary unease about our modern world, likely aided by the fact that many of us are still surrounded by people who lack any respectable technological understanding (Worryingly, our politicians come to mind.) We’re on the front lines with this stuff gentlemen. It’s not a bad idea to take a moment to redefine how you look at all of this. So what can you hope to take away from this article, that leaves you more enlightened than before you began?
- Reassess your attitude towards technological behaviour.
- Recalibrate the time spent using tech, depending on your current ratio and goals.
- Explore the possibility of increasing your digital presence, by seeking hobbies and interests. (Writing, Music creation, Art, Video creation, Starting a business.)
- Watch the TV show Black Mirror and get freaked out by the many theoretical, unanticipated consequences of new technologies.