This week, Facebook fired its yoga teacher because she banned smartphones during yoga class. The story went viral, most likely because it struck a nerve. Do we need to always be connected to our devices?
I recently interviewed Gwen Bell, a former “social media guru” (according to a 2010 Fast Company article) whose work is now focused on helping develop healthy relationships with technology. I talked to her for Where Is My Guru, which I had the pleasure of guest hosting today.
I’ve been following Gwen’s work for years. She was one of the first people I started following on Twitter – back when she was still on the platform – and she helped me figure out how to use it effectively. A while ago, I noticed that I hadn’t seen anything from her, so I went to her website to learn that she had closed all her social media profiles and was only accessible through a mailing list. I signed up and enjoy her regular emails full of wisdom and reflection on digital life.
Her latest project is a book, Digital Warriorship, which is available as a living document via the cloud (aka Google Drive). The book is intended to help people understand ourselves, our needs and the needs of others. It’s meant to help us bring our highest selves to the web.
Gwen’s writing has helped me examine my relationship with social media. I love social media. I spend a lot of time on the web, interacting on my various social media networks. In many ways, I feel social media enriches my life – but it also sucks up my precious time and messes up my attention span.
As Gwen points out, we have a finite time on the planet. What are we doing with it? I found myself asking myself if I always need have my smartphone with me. When I find myself scrolling through my Twitter feed, what am I really looking for? Or am I just “killing time”?
Digital Warriorship has taught me how to check in with my needs and be aware of my emotions while I’m on the web (and when I feel compelled to go on it). Even though I’m a serious internet user, there are some places I won’t go. I’ve never brought my smartphone to yoga class. Once that starts happening, I’ll need to take an even deeper look at my habits and behaviours.
I’m not yet ready unplug. In the meantime, however, I’ll just let go a little. I’ll leave my smartphone at home when I go for walks, put it aside when I realize that I’m feeling bored or needy. I’ll start where I am and grow from here.