How is the “now” culture impacting your community?

Ahhh, technology. We love it — and for good reason. It makes life easier, gives us instant access to information, and it keeps us connected… at least in theory. Need to reach a group of people fast? Punch out a quick text or email on your phone. Want to catch up on the latest news or what’s happening with distant friends and family? Check your favorite website or social media feed. Yep, today’s technology can add a lot to our lives if it’s used properly.

But you know what they say about too much of a good thing… Next time you’re at a restaurant or shopping mall, look around. How many people are looking down at a 5-inch screen? Probably a pretty good percentage.

Are couples really having dinner together if they’re both absorbed in their phones? Do movie theaters really need to threaten us with removal for using our phones during the show?

Are we so far gone that we don’t know better? Recent studies revealed that 71% of Americans who own smartphones actually sleep with them. This means we sleep with our phones on our nightstands, in our beds, and for 3% of us, in our hands.

That can’t be good… can it?

And for 35% of us, our smartphone is our first thought when we wake up in the morning. Only 10% said they first thought of their spouse or significant other. But we love our families more than our phones. Don’t we?

What about your community? You probably have friends and neighbors on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. But can a “like” or a comment on someone’s status replace the fulfillment of a handshake or personal conversation? No way.

So, how do we keep the draw of social media from compromising our humanity? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Set some “gadget-free” hours. Let yourself “detox” from technology on a daily basis. Unless it’s an urgent call from a loved one, it can wait a couple of hours… can’t it?
  2. Engage with other humans. Using your phone to catch up on Facebook or post a few pictures is a fine way to pass a few minutes at the airport. But when you’re home with your family, make it a point to engage with them. Be with people. Pet the dog. Go for a walk. Breathe.
  3. Get to know your neighbors. When was the last time you sat on your front porch or a park bench without your phone? Chances are, you’ll meet more of your neighbors. And knowing your neighbors makes your community happier, safer, and more connected.

Let’s not allow technology to keep us from the original social media: human interaction. Believe it or not, it won’t kill you to put your phone down for a while. You won’t miss the next big thing by taking a two-hour break. Make real people a priority, and see how your life and community can improve.

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