By Dr. Matthew B. James
All of today’s wonderful technology allows us to stay in touch like never before with extended networks of people. But it comes with a downside.
The more time we spend surfing the Web, Tweeting or updating our Facebook friends, the less time we have to interact with those closest to us.
Some people know more about what is going on with their Facebook friends than they do about their actual friends and kids. Unless you “friend” your kids on Facebook, you may have no idea what they are doing today.
Among the thousands of people I’ve taught, I often hear people complain they have a hard time connecting with their spouse and kids. Yet I’ll bet many of them are really well connected in Internet chat groups. Do you see a pattern here?
I’m grateful for technology. I use it to share photos with family members who don’t live in the islands. I and other parents take videos of our kids dancing at Hula Halau, the hula school we attend here in Hawaii, and put them on YouTube. Otherwise some of our family members outside the islands would not have seen them for a year or more.
But it is important to understand if your use of technology is keeping you from time with your family and friends. Do you complain that you’re not connected with friends and family? Do you suspect you are addicted to technology such as Facebook or other social networking sites? Are you so engrossed with Facebook and Twitter that you’ve become a twit?
If the answer to these questions is yes, that’s a good sign that it is time to log off the Internet, turn off the TV and unplug the gaming console.
I recommend that you as a parent regulate your child’s screen time and your own time online. Instead of creating a post about what you’re going to be doing or just did, spend that time connecting with those closest to you.
If you really have a problem regulating your use of technology, it helps to understand some of the reasons we turn to technology for fulfillment.
Do you feel like you are just going through the motions, automatically turning on whatever electronic medium soothes you? Is it keeping you from time with family or in meditation or prayer that you know you need? This may be a sign that you have succumbed to what is known as the “iago trance” — a naturally occurring state of mind that lulls you into unconsciousness.
Huna, the ancient Hawaiian system of consciousness that I teach and practice, gives us tools to stay connected with the moment and the world around us and not be lulled into the iago trance. At our Huna workshops we spend nine days seeking that “ah ha” moment of clarity and empowerment.
If technology is interfering with your real world relationships, it is time to cut out unnecessary screen time and maximize the activities that keep you out of the trance. Here are some tips to help you do it:
- Ask yourself if technology is helping or hindering you from accomplishing all you wish to do. At the end of the day do you say: “I wish I had more time to work out, meditate, play with my kids or connect with my spouse?”
- Make a list of everything that prevents you from being connected to your friends, family and loved ones and pick one that you’re going to cut out.
- If a particular technology has you feeling hooked, try cutting it out for a week and seeing what difference it makes in your life. Ask yourself if you’re using it the way you originally intended, or is it keeping you in iago trance?
- Lay down boundaries for yourself and your family on the activities that prevent you from connecting. For instance, try keeping your Facebook page very private and not just “friending” anyone.
- Find other “unplugged” ways to reduce stress, such as spending a few minutes outdoors in the fresh air, walking and connecting with nature, or quietly in meditation or prayer.
I’d rather tell my wife good morning than tell the people on Facebook I just woke up. How about you?
Do you spend more time with “E-friends” than your “live” friends and family? Take the quiz.
Your child approaches you with a question while you’re on Facebook. Do you:
o Make your kid wait until you’ve finished whatever you’re doing.
o Stop immediately and pay attention to your child?
You have a problem you’re working out. Who knows about it first?
o Your Facebook friends.
o Your loved ones.
Your husband/wife/lover comes up to give you affection. Do you:
o Acknowledge them.
o Keep Tweeting.
Do you feel know people on Facebook you’ve never met better than your “live” friends?
Is your first reaction to share your experiences with your:
o Live friends
o Virtual friends.
Do you feel like your long drive to work is preventing you from tweeting?
Is interacting with virtual friends taking you away from tasks that need to be accomplished?
About the Author: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of Kona University. His new book, "The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times" details forgiveness and meditation techniques used in Hawaii for hundreds of years. He carries on the lineage of the one of the last practicing kahuna of mental health and well-being. To reach Dr. James, please e-mail him at info@Huna.com.