Today, I am grateful for being sensitive and aware enough to notice when the advantages of digital input become an over-stimulation and therefore harmful to me. I have long noticed the unpleasant effects of working at my computer for extended periods of time responding to emails, conducting my business, and interacting socially with friends all over the world. Symptoms include restlessness, aggression, and depression; and that is without listening to music simultaneously or having the TV on, things other people I know constantly do and consider absolutely normal. Despite its obvious advantages, excesses of a digital lifestyle are not healthy for our human systems which were not intended for this.
In a post by Katrina Schwartz, she explains the ways attention and kind, human interaction are interlinked according to Daniel Goleman. Schwartz points out that the stimuli in a digitally enhanced life negatively affect human development in ways that are harmful both on an educational as well as on an emotional level. “The circuitry for paying attention is identical for the circuits for managing distressing emotion,” Goleman says. Our brains’ pre-frontal cortices enable people to control themselves and feel empathy.
Thus, in order to help children in particular develop these skills for attention as well as emotional management, Goleman suggests daily “digital sabbaths” that increase attention in addition to exercises for mindfulness. While removing children, or even ourselves, to a Tibetan monastery may not be a feasible idea, the option of removing them from a digital environment on a regular basis certainly is. Thus, the overload of stimuli people and children are now exposed to even as part of their education and professions can be mitigated to allow for the necessary respite, recuperation, and development of those skills.
Therefore, I suggest that you now finish reading this post, close your computer and sit somewhere in stillness contemplating a plant, listening to your breath, or feeling your cat purr with your hand on its body. Enjoy!