By Rooda AlNeama (@ThinkDubai)
We are so connected to everything all the time; to work, family, friends through our mobiles, our computers, and real life that many of us feel the need to take a vacation from our everyday’s life, whether by physically leaving our current situation and going on vacation or escaping into our own minds. Sometimes we just want to disconnect, but in the world we live in today, it seems impossible to disconnect, especially if your phone is beeping every two seconds because someone posted on your facebook wall, mentioned you in a tweet, or sending you messages and emails. I personally do not receive a call from my mother until my phone runs out of charge and she needs me NOW. No wonder many feel they need to answer whatever form of communication right away. People no longer have the patience to wait for replies. So are we really more connected, or are we disconnected from real life?
Have we asked ourselves who are we connected to? Passing by cafes and seeing groups of people that are there together but none of them are talking to each other. Each of them is either smiling to their phone, typing frantically, or answering that call from work. Although physically in the same place the group is not connected to each other in any other way.
Is our mind wandering while we are on the phone? A study by Daniel Gilbert and Mathew Killingsworth showed that people are ‘mind wandering’ nearly half the time, they are going into their thoughts and exploring them rather than focusing on the present. Another finding was that mind wandering made people unhappy, that sticking to the present task was more fulfilling than escaping into ones thoughts. This made me understand why some people who say they need vacations do not end up enjoying them. Instead of immersing themselves in the beautiful weather, landscapes, new experiences, they ‘space-out’ into their own minds thinking about things other than the present such as work and the future.
What are the benefits of being connected? Many have found new friends; some may even call them their online family, people that are now in their everyday lives. People are being more receptive, open to discussion and sharing cultures. Some people even find themselves more sociable online than real-life, being behind a screen has helped them crawl out of their shell.
I feel many, including myself, are struggling to find that line between spreading their time online or real life, from the present to escaping. I would love to know your thoughts and how you manage your time and connecting with your online community, your family, and friends.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes that leaves me in check:
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look forward to another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” Henry Thorreau