10 ways to be more connected

According to the official German language dictionary Langescheid, the German “Youthword” of 2015 is “Smombie” ~ Smartphone Zombie.

This is interesting since my father and I have been having some interesting debates recently about the rise of disconnected-ness among people these days, brought on by the rise of “smart” (or web enabled) technology.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.09.11 PMNow, I am not blind and definitely do see the “zombification” of my own, as well as older and younger generations and I too am concerned, however, I genuinely believe that the technology itself is not to blame which is why I get so easily frustrated with this topic. I believe that the technology itself it’s wonderful (I wrote a whole poem about it), so let’s not dwell on that.

I don’t ignore my surroundings because they TAUGHT me that that would be rude. I am 25 years old (and married) and I still ASK before I put both of my headphones in on a lengthy family road trip, because they insisted on that when I was younger – and it stuck.

You know what else stuck? No phones at the dinner table. If mine was out it was gone… I was taught the art of making conversation and keeping eye contact. Also, when ever I had friends over, sure we were allowed to watch movies and play video games but eventually my parents physically turned the TV off and sent us playing outside or with toys. I am surrounded by the same tech as many others but I was raised right.

IMG_5998Maybe, today’s youth just aren’t being raised the same way but it’s also hard for parents to crack down on something that they themselves do all the time. The amount of adults I have seen who will blatantly text the whole way through a coffee date, permanently check their Facebook while visiting with friends or just can’t stop playing what ever the newest Facebook game is (Candy Crush, Farmville etc) while they’re supposed to be watching a movie together, is absolutely mind boggling to me.

The main point I am hoping to make is that I believe that bad habits, poor examples and lazy parenting have lead to our tragically disconnected state.

That being said, here are my top 10 tips to reconnect. You don’t have to try all of them, but I am hoping they will help. 😀

At home/personal space

  1. Enjoy the real world for at least an hour in the morning before you “plug in”. 
    1. Have a morning routine such as kissing your loved one(s), having coffee/breakfast, brushing your teeth and getting dressed ALL BEFORE checking your Facebook/Twitter etc. You may be surprised at how much more awake and aware you’ll feel if you day starts in the real world.
  2. Ban Phones/Tablets from the Breakfast/Dinner Table. 
    1. You could make it a game, there are plenty of suggestions for this on the web, or you could just all grow up and leave them well away.
  3. Introduce new hobbies/join a club. 
    1. IMG_3527A lot of the time we spend on Social Media is to fill the empty time in which we’re doing “nothing”. Having a hobby, be it knitting, sewing, puzzling, reading, scrapbooking, playing sports, learning a new language or just playing with the dog will give you something tangible to do, that you can enjoy on your own or even share with those around you.
  4. Limit Screen time – TV/Video Games/Tablets for EVERYONE.
    1. A lot of my time on the internet is spent doing nothing. As in I am just bored and clicking through YouTube, Blog Pages and social games to take up time. This is neither constructive nor healthy, so I suggest limiting screen time. If we only have 2 hours (for example) a day to be on Facebook, YouTube, blogs etc. we will really DO what we want to DO. Message the people we want to message, watch exactly those videos we really want to watch (recipes, DIY’s, romantic proposals 😉 , sports instructions etc.) and at the end of it, we won’t feel like we just “wasted” two hours of our day. We actually DID stuff, stuff that we wanted to do.
  5. Introduce Game Nights (no tech).
    1. Card games and Board Games are amazing. From Chess to Monopoly, through Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, Yahtzee to Cribbage, there are countless amazing games out there that families and friends can play together without touching a screen. The trick is finding a game that everyone will enjoy, and once you do, you will have hours or hilarious (and connected) fun. IMG_4516

In Public Spaces

  1. Be aware of your surroundings, maybe even unplug once in a while (earplugs, where’s your bag?)
    1. Don’t walk/cycle/drive and look at your phone at the same time. Also, take out at least one earbud (if not both.) Having earphones in and music blaring stops you from hearing things like bike bells/sirens and also people when they say things like “excuse me” “pardon me” or “sorry” when they try to get passed you.  (Who knows you might even notice something beautiful like bird chirping or children laughing. 😀 )
  2. Smile at people you interact with (servers, people who hold the door for you, stranger passing on the street.)
    1. Your waiter/server is a person, look them in the eye, smile, respect their presence and their job. They’ll have a better day for it, and chances are you’ll even get better service for being such a swell human being. 😉 Sometimes a smile is all you need to brighten your own day and someone else’s, especially on a stressful Monday morning. Also, smiling is healthy, ask science.
  3. Keep an eye out for someone who may need your help.
    1. Same as a smile, a simple gesture of helping someone can go a long way. Whether you reach something from a high shelf at a grocery store for someone, hold the door open for someone whose hands are full, help a lost looking tourist find their way around your city  or help a senior cross the street, you will have a lasting impact on that person’s day. There are a lot of us on this tiny planet, and if we just all watch out for one another a little bit, we can make it a better place. (Excellent video on the topic here: https://youtu.be/nwAYpLVyeFU)
  4. Respect Public Spaces.
    1. Swearing can be fun, and sometime necessary, but we have this common agreement to not do it in public and especially not in front of children. Also, we really shouldn’t spit, “air-blow” our noses, litter, leave gum, graffiti or in any other way deface public spaces; these may all seem really obvious, but when we’re all so wrapped into our own little bubbles, it’s easy to forget our manners. These are shared spaces and we share a responsibility to keep them safe and clean – that includes not blasting music so loud that everyone else has to hear it and not being an obstacle to other people by just being unaware.
  5. Really explore some local gems. 
    1. IMG_4427Get to know your home town/area. Don’t just sit at home trolling the Web all Sunday long, get out of the house and explore. Invite friends, or go on your own, but try that new local coffee shop, check out the farmers market or try a new restaurant. Does your city/town/village attract any tourists? If so, ask yourself why that is and go see the local tourist attractions. Maybe you could even take a day trip to another fascinating local town to see what they have to offer, either way connect with your surroundings.

These obviously aren’t the be all and end all, and they might not work for everyone, but I think they’re a great place to start.

Take care. xoxo