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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

A Manifesto on Curbing the Technology Trap

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jun 9th 2011

 

tech trapI was recently listening to a clip of Rainn Wilson speak about how we can use meditation to help us harness our creativity. Rainn is the goofy guy on the American version of the hit comedy series The Office. He’s an extremely funny guy. That’s not what this post is about, but he said something that was really interesting. He said, “We’re so focused on the externals, looking outwards all the time and this is the trap of technology.”

The reality is I can argue both sides of the coin and they’re both true. As our mobile devices become more like entertainment centers, technology becomes more of a trap for most of us. The mind jumps in, “When’s the next email, text, phone message, chat, blog update, appointment update, facebook message, tweet, etc…” the list of updates is endless. We now go to our phones to search the various markets for the next cool app or get drawn in by the fun little mindless games or videos that come our way.

I’ve argued in the past that we can harness the power of technology to help us train our attention, become more present and internally reflective. This was during the alpha version of the Mindfulness at Work App.

However, that’s not usually the way we use technology and if we’re constantly drawn to what formal Apple and Microsoft Executive Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention” we’re doomed to never take advantage of this life as it is.

That’s why I’m a huge proponent in helping people find ways for “continuous anchoring attention” to bring us back to the present moment, to this life.

I don’t mean this lightly when I say that we really have to beware of the technology trap. We’re not choosing to get sucked in, most of the time we’re not even aware of it. For some of us it happens quickly, for others it is a slower and more subtle habitual way of living.

What’s the impact? A totally stressed out culture who has now trained their minds to be easily distracted and addicted to the next alert. A culture who can’t stop themselves from texting while driving even though they know that greatly increases their probability of getting into an accident. It’s also a culture that breathes impatience, so we want the quick fix and the pharmaceutical companies are happy to find you something (note: I’m not anti-medication, it certainly has its place, but in my experience we have become overly dependent on it and are continuing to head in that direction).

This is our future?

I think so unless we find ways to bring our minds back home and allow ourselves to get back in touch with ourselves as we are. It’s imperative we get to know our minds, how they work, and gain the confidence that we can trust ourselves. Only then can we choose the lives we want to live and not be ruled by an unhealthy auto-pilot.

It's up to us.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.  

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

love this - Leah_Kelley - Jun 11th 2011

I love this post.

I have often wondered about the role technology plays in keping us busy and the potential to interfere with reflection and mindfulness.

I have also considered the challenge for teens (and others) that in having the constant texting ability in their hand may be interrupting their self-talk and ability to take a moment to reflect and self regulate. Vgotsky implies that it is the existance of self-talk (that inner voice) that may actually come to play a role in impulse control, because it provides that moment of time, inherent in its very existence, to put thought before action.

What is happening to that practice of reflection? Are our young people being trained to lightning quick reactions (or overreactions) based on the input of "friends" and little self-direction?

I love technology. I feel its draw... its lure... I can use it in a way that adds to my thought and gives me many new ways to think about things, but I don't think being connected with others, or just with / through technology is necessarily the path to mindfulness. I have seen the affect upon myself when it was more like mindlessness...

 

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