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Cut The Cord

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We mean from the slew of gadgets you have strewn around you at this very moment. Ever wondered what it would be like to take a break and disconnect? Rhea Dhanbhoora & Dev Goswami tell you why it’s really important to unplug every now and then...

Do you take your phone into the bathroom with you? Don’t blush with embarrassment if you do, because the rest of the city is also guilty of this habit. Using gadgets such as your phone, computer, laptop, tablet or mp3 player 24x7 isn’t even seen as a problem anymore — it’s just the way we live. Avoiding face-to-face interaction has never been easier. All you have to do is send a text message and you’ve done your bit to keep in touch. Life is quicker and more convenient but definitely not healthier. Studies at the University at Northridge found that social media can be as addictive as drugs. Also, there are several studies that link depression and mental health issues to the use of technology. On the contrary, stepping outside and taking a little time out from all the gadgets can leave you refreshed and rejuvenated. Here we tell you about the benefits of going unplugged, the cons of too many gadgets and how people in the city choose to disconnect.

Do you lock away your gadgets when you go to bed? We thought not. But, even if you’re addicted to technology, there has to be some space where you’re completely disconnected. We got people in the city to tell us about their technology-free sanctuary. And surprisingly, a lot of young people are taking time out too.

23-year-old graphic designer Bijal Sheth, from Kemps Corner, spends most of her day in front of a computer at her desk. While that’s essential for the sort of job she has, it means that she doesn’t get any me time. She says, “My ideal way of spending me time would be to go grocery shopping to Nature's Basket or cook. Cooking is a stress buster for me and with time, I have also realised how much fun grocery shopping can be.”

“A lot of my day is spent at home, baking. I fit in a little “me time” by going to the gym or just disconnecting from everything and going for a run,” says 26-year-old chocolatier Sheel Mody from Parel. She tells us that since she’s surrounded by calories all day long, there couldn’t be a better me time than getting in a little exercise to burn it off!

The life of a homemaker can be quite stressful too and these days, it involves calling people for playdates and housekeeping, texting your children and dealing with being surrounded by gadgets all day long, even if they’re not yours. So, it’s no wonder that 52-year-old homemaker Harsha Ghadiali needs to get out of the house to unplug and unwind. The Altamount Road resident says, “I am usually at home through the day, involved in family matters and my day-to-day routine. My ideal way of spending alone time would be to drop by a mall and indulge in some shopping. It could just be some window shopping too! I can just disconnect from everything then.”

“I spend so much time in front of my computer at work and then at home in front of the television. Not to mention, I’m always connected because of my phone. Thinking about spending time without technology is hard,” admits 23-year-old software developer, Ankit Arora — and we don’t blame him! But, he still takes time out to do a few things without having any gadgets near by. “The one place where I can truly disconnect without a care in the world is when I’m playing football. The sport just puts me in the zone and I don’t care about anyone or anything for hours on end.” The Yari Road resident also reads and swims to take a technology break.

On the other hand, 25-year-old Samreen Samad believes in following a zen-like practice to unwind from her day-to-day life and technology. The Santacruz resident tells us, “I practice Buddhism, which involves chanting mantras. So, when I feel the need to unwind, I do that along with meditating.” She also practices yoga, which is another time for her when she’s completely cut-off from technology.

Marol resident, Ajeet Mahale’s unwinding tactics are something that most of us would relate to. He tells us, “In my me time I do a range of things that can include reading, cooking and cleaning things.” The latter, he tells us, is more of a compulsion, but it allows him to disconnect and just be by himself. Apart from that, the 24-year-old also prefers going on walks along Powai lake which provides him with a serene atmosphere to reflect upon life.

22-year-old Sameer Bharde, who resides in Bandra, has an interesting way of being away from technology. He says, “I go around my colony block, feeding stray dogs and cats and petting them.” This, he tells us, allows him to completely disconnect with technology and spend some time alone with himself, and to an extent, with nature.

For 21-year-old Andheri resident Aparamey Ramnath, taking a break from technology means reading books and magazines. He tells us, “It’s not really ‘me’ time per se, since I am not thinking about me or my life, but when I am alone, I just put my phone on silent and take up an interesting book or read a magazine that has caught my attention.” He also has another interesting way to stay disconnected, which is interesting because it involves the use of technology. He says, “I sometimes read on my phone, but I always put it on airplane mode, so that I do not get disturbed.”

So, you’ve read what people in the city are saying about their technology free zones. Here are some of our suggestions so that you can go ahead and get unplugged:

Walk: Take a walk, even if it’s just for half an hour every morning. Its a good way to stay away from anything gadget related. This will only work if you leave your phone and iPod at home though, so no music!

Read: Read a book — an actual, paper book with pages. We know that e-books are convenient, but it’s another thing entirely to read an actual book.
Disappear into a good story with a steaming cup of tea or coffee and you’ll thank us for the suggestion.

Play a game: No, not a video game. Break out Scrabble or Pictionary and play a board game. Learn a new sport or just dabble with badminton matches with your friends. Yes, we’re talking about going old-school.

Socialise: When was the last time you went out with friends and family and none of you were looking at your phones? Try going for a trek, a camping trip or just out for dinner with all of you talking to each other instead.

Take a nap: There is nothing like a little nap to completely disconnect. It sounds so simple, but remember that it involves banishing your gadgets to another room and not thinking about them at all till you’re up and about again.

Take up a hobby: You know all that time you thought you were short of? We just opened it all up for you. You’ll be surprised at how much time you waste at the computer or on your phone. Now that you have all this extra time, pick up a hobby, learn something new or just re-ignite an old passion.

Think about the last time you had a day free of technology. No text messages, calls or even de-stressing games and definitely no checking email. Take a look at why it’s a good idea to go unplugged occasionally:

You’ll be more alert: Staring at a computer all day or unblinkingly at your phone will actually make you feel more tired. You’ll begin to feel lethargic and lazy and that’s when you need to disconnect from everything. Step outside, get some fresh air and you’ll feel more alert almost instantly.

Feeling blue: A good time to unplug is definitely when you’re feeling stressed, frustrated and a little low. Too much technology can be depressing. Put your gadgets away for a while and you’ll feel uplifted.

You’ll work better: Your brain is a lot more active and has more energy when you are away from gadgets that do all the work for you. You’ll start thinking clearly and learn to do things on your own, finding other solutions apart from Google, tablets and note-taking apps to help you record, remember and learn things.

You’ll be more positive: Like we mentioned before, technology can make you feel a little down in the dumps. So, without all the chaos that comes with a thousand applications and gadgets, you’ll have a more relaxed, open mind and a more positive outlook. Try it out.

Your eyes will thank you: No, really. Taking a break from technology means that you’ll be giving your eyes a much needed break. And if you use earphones all day, it will be good for your eardrums too!

You’ll relax: The thing about technology is that it keeps us connected all the time. So you’ll never be able to switch off completely. Even if we’re not using it, we’re always aware of chat pings, email alerts and text notifications. Going on a little break will mean that you’re giving your mind a little time to relax and shut off from everything.

Need more reasons to unplug yourself? Here we give you a few ways excess use of gadgets can harm you:
Affects your eyesight: Too much time spent in front of computer screens and mobile phones, reading fine text can be a big burden on your eyes. It will make your eyes weaker in the long run and unplugging yourself will ensure that you give your eyes a break.

Slows down your brain: Surprised? Well, think of the last time you were able to remember phone numbers of your close friends. Or better, the last time you were able to make simple mathematical calculations without using your phone’s calculator. See what we’re getting at?

Affects your sleep: Enough studies have shown that using gadgets, be it laptops or phones, just before bedtime can lead to a variety of sleep disorders. The constant exposure to light, messes up your body clock leaving you unable to sleep.

Could make you fat: Studies have shown that increased gadget use was associated with larger waistlines. Why so? Well, the reasons range from sitting in front of a computer replacing physical activities to looking at screens lulling you into unconscious eating.

“Technology has made our lives comfortable and we can now multitask easily, but while doing so, we are over-burdening ourselves. Our mind not only retains information but also is a very efficient analyst but unfortunately we do not look upon our brains for its analytical capacity. By creating space for yourself i.e. by disconnecting self for a while can help us in self analysis. In today’s world, communication with the rest of the world has become so aggressive and prompt that we forget the most important person we should be in touch with is actually our own self. And you can only do that if you take a break from technology and communication. That is why everyone needs to do so, at least once in a while.”
— Kinjal Pandya, psychologist

Finding it hard to shut off? Here are a few simple ways you can cut down on your consumption in your daily life too, without going cold turkey.

  • Take the long way — open a dictionary or try counting on your fingers instead of depending on a gadget to do it all for you.
  • Put everything on silent. This way, you can check your phone and computer every once in a while instead of the minute you get a notification.
  • Don’t keep all your tabs open. Log in and out of social networking sites so that you have time to disconnect, even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes.
  • Take time out for lunch and dinner — and the bathroom — away from your gadgets. Mealtimes are the easiest way to disconnect without even realising it.
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