In today's society we are constantly so plugged in that we forget that there's such a thing as being too plugged in.
The world has limitless possibilities now, but are we ready for them?
When do we stop swiping to the left and start looking to the left? What happens when we no longer have our phones as our armor? Are we even the same person when it comes time to remove the texting, and trade it in for person-to-person talking?
We use one-word answers to explain who we are, where we are from, what we like and how we are feeling. We're losing the ability to express ourselves in person-to-person communication when there is not something to "hide" behind.
Today, we are continuously so tapped into something that we lose our surroundings. We're plugged in all the time, but to our own little world. We're obsessed with what others are doing, but not the people right next to us. We sit at dinner parties covered in a glow of cellphone usage. We let "Mr. or Mrs. Right" walk right past us because we are swiping left and right. We're not calling our friends to say, "hello," because we think we know what's going on in their lives through a series of pictures.
We're losing real communication in exchange for a false sense of connection.
We need to stop being so focused on the cyber world and start becoming present in the "real world." We need to lose our desire for "false connections," so that we become more approachable, and ultimately find real connections. We need to understand being present does not include looking at our mobile devices. We need to start being more self-aware about the amount of usage we are giving our electronics.
Personally, I've taken this all to heart for some time now, and have made changes in my own life, so that love, friendship and real relationships can become present in my life. I've made it of chief importance to see my friends, to find career opportunities that allow me to have more human interaction, and not be a part of the ever growing dating app world.
Below are eight things that I would recommend trying out, so that you too, may find a real sense of connection, a greater appreciation of being present and an overall happier life. Some of these ideas seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many of us forget to implement these ideas.
1. Stop Looking at Your Phone
Obviously, I don't mean all together. Our phones make our lives a million times easier, but with that ease we are paying a huge price. We waste so much time gazing into the lives of others on social media that we forget we have our own lives to live, our own dreams to make come true, our own love stories to write.
When you stop looking down, you start looking up. This is the greatest literal and metaphorical change you can make to your life. When you're looking at your phone, you're allowing a magical world to pass you by, and closing yourself off from endless opportunities. Look up, look left, look right. Hell, look anywhere besides down, all you will ever see is your phone and feet.
You'll start to see many possibilities, people, and places you glanced over before in new ways.
2. Make Your Phone Your Friend Not Your Foe
If you're going to spend time on Facebook, Instagram and all these other social media sites, they should be used as tools for inspiration, not harmful venues for you to feel insignificant, envious or jealous. Follow people that make you want to chase your dreams, provide motivation and act as examples.
Sign up for newsletters or email notifications about what is happening in the world. Allow yourself the opportunity to become a more informed individual, so that you don't get stuck harping on unimportant and trivial things like what celebrities are fighting today.
3. Unplug Your Headphones
We use our headphones as conscious and subconscious signifiers that we don't want to be approached, spoken to, or interacted with. I'd agree there are times this is a necessary action; I for one, like my time to be my time when I am at the gym. However, the problem arises when we're always closed off from others by plugging in our headphones.
By removing your headphones here and there, you're allowing yourself to be more approachable, or even, GASP, approached. You're giving others an indirect message that you're open to real communication. You're allowing yourself to be even more present in your life. You're allowing for vocal interaction to be a thing.
It's something that is so simple and easy to do, but something many of us don't do. We frown, implement "resting bitch face," or do anything but smile. When you smile, you look welcoming, inviting and approachable.
Smiling for one minute can literally change your entire mood. It makes you laugh at yourself, and you forget why you were doing anything other then smiling, and being happy. Smiling helps release stress, boosts your immune system and is a universal sign of happiness.
Who wouldn't want any of those things?
5. Stop Talking About the Things You Want to Do and Do Them
By putting down your phone, you're allowing your time to be taken up by things that mean something to you, rather than simply "wasting" time. Many of us use our phones as ways to distract us from what is actually going on.
Being fully present in the moment is something that this generation, my generation, has a hard time doing. We don't know how to simply wait for our friend or date to show up without playing on our phones. We don't know how to ask for help when we may need it. We think we see everyone else having it all together, so we should too.
I know so many people, who have big ideas and dreams, but are afraid to go after them because they're scared. The people who've fulfilled their dreams have taken risks and reaped the rewards. They're the one's that you are staring at on social media, and think, "I wish I had that person's life."
6. Stop Hiding Behind Your Phone
When I was single and dating, I tried everything from Tindr to Facebook to meet guys, and it worked. I met a lot of dudes! We would connect through some form of texting, have nice conversations, and get to a place where we both wanted to go on an actual date. Crazy, I know!
I'd be so pumped to meet this guy, who came across sweet, confident and cool, but the second we meet in person, Mr. Perfect became Mr. Boring, Mr. Quiet, or Mr. No Personality. I literally would think, "Was that even you, who I was talking to?"
We've become so used to having something to guard us from rejection that many of us end up with two personalities. One persona, who is probably more like the real us without any thought of judgment, and the other persona being one that is defensive and scared. I'm all for someone having confidence, but that confidence should be there when you are standing eye to eye with one another, not just typing words.
7. Stop Using Dating Apps
I've said this once, I'll say it a thousand times; if you're looking for a real connection, chances are, you're not going to find one by swiping through countless men or women.
I know there's the exception to every rule, but if you're on number 100 of first dates than its time to retire the app, and start going out into the real world, putting yourself at risk to be rejected, and walking up to real people you find attractive for one reason or another.
I deleted all my dating apps a long long time ago, and made myself say hi to guys I was interested in. It was scary, some flat out gave me the cold shoulder, but with each guy I walked up to it became easier and easier to say hi.
I also don't think I would have necessarily liked specific guys I ended up liking in person had I first come across them online. There's a certain energy that can be felt when you first see someone you are attracted to in person that will never be obtainable through a screen.
8. Stop Going for Instant Gratification
We're literally able to do just about anything through the Internet, our phones, or whatever electronic device you favor. We're presented with many opportunities because of our connectedness, but the problem is, we don't always give ourselves time to think. We act fastidiously because we can, not because we should. We give in to sudden urges and play mind-games with ourselves later, when it should be the reverse.
We're not looking out for numero uno, ourselves, as best as we should because we "can do now, and think later." We need to remember that all actions, good and bad, come with some sort of consequence. Just because something sounds like a good idea at the time doesn't mean it is.
Rebel Wilson says it best in Pitch Perfect, "I sometimes have a feeling I can do crystal meth, but than I think, 'mmmm, better not.'"
Ultimately, I don't think our generation is doing everything wrong. So many of us are using a number of these tools to better the world. We are making tremendous advances in technology, medicine, and an array of other areas, but we need to remember that everything that we think is helping us, can also be harmful in some way.
Too much oxygen will suffocate you; too much water will drown you; too many vegetables will still make you overweight. Yes, these are extremes, but they are examples of how moderation is necessary, of how we need to be aware of what we're doing to ourselves, of how we need to look beyond our phones.
I by no means am saying throw your phone out, or never look at it again, but I am saying that you would be surprised at how much beauty, joy, and life you miss everyday while looking down.
Be aware. Be approachable. Be present.
Who knows, your life just might change by looking up.
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