It’s been called “online fatigue” and with many people spending a majority of their day online, medical experts say mental fatigue is inevitable if a break is not taken. Thus, this is why Matt said he decided to relax along with his wife and hundreds of others here at Pacific City, who chose to enjoy the recent beautiful weather outside without “messing” with their technology devices, for what Matt calls “mental hygiene.” This 30-something government office worker from nearby Salem, Oregon, said “we get these mental hygiene days, and I thought why not extend mine into Mother’s Day weekend and then again for Memorial Day weekend.” In fact, this surfing dude thinks it’s a lot easier to get un-wired when the weather is nice outside. “How can I possibly sit at a desk and look at that screen all day and not dream of surfing,” Matt explains with a grin during a May 12 Huliq interview while sitting here at Pacific City’s beach in front of the famed Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock. “Just look at that rock and the surf,” he adds with a get busy outside type response while noting “our iPhone is locked in the car.” Also, the solution of taking a “tech break” – to help ease mental and physical fatigue – is the subject of a new book by Dr. Larry D. Rosen titled: “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us.”
Also, Matt and his wife point to a local Oregon author who claims “there’s natural wonder and even primitive existential magic” at the seaside. They say this “magic” happens when the sun lights up the faces of everyone you meet because “you can smell all of life” here at the beach facing the mighty Pacific Ocean. No wonder they’re so naturally high on life after a day of having fun at the beach over sitting in a dark room just starring at a computer screen.
Step away from tech-gadgets for your mental health
For those combating some form of techno-addiction, Dr. Rosen advises “regularly stepping away from the computer for a few minutes and connecting with nature; just standing in your driveway and staring at the bushes, research shows, has a way of resetting our brains,” stated a May 12 New York Times report.
Also, Dr. Rosen suggests a whole set of remedies for children’s techno-addiction. The doctor told The New York Times recently that “two popular methods are to make sure your child gets a full night’s sleep, and to convene regular family dinners where technology is forbidden at the table. This is especially useful, it appears, in reintroducing children to normal interaction after hours spent in cyber conversation.
In turn, both the recent Mother’s Day weekend and the forthcoming Memorial Day weekend means that Matt and other people from across the country will have a good opportunity to take some needed “mental hygiene” breaks from their tech-gadgets and replace surfing the Net with real surfing in the ocean, or fun-filled Bar-B-Qs, family gatherings and simply having fun in the sun as Summer nears.
Living in a digital world is stressful and strange
Dr. Larry D. Rosen is a California psychologist told The New York Times in a May 12 report that he’s “less concerned with techno-boorishness than with the very real possibility that all these new personal gadgets may be making some of us mentally ill — especially those who are prone to narcissism, for example, or to depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
For instance, in his new book “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us,” Doctor Rosen surveys the existing research and suggests ways that users of new technologies can avoid behavioral pitfalls.
At the same time, the word “iDisorder,” which Doctor Rosen repeats throughout his book, suggests an author trying very hard to coin a term that the New York Times reports is a growing disorder with those Americans working in this digital age.
For instance, Doctor Rosen explains how psychologists divides Twitter users into “informers,” those who pass along interesting facts, and “meformers,” those who pass along interesting facts about only themselves.
Tech caused mental health disorders now revealed
Also, the Times reported how “70 percent of those who report heavily using mobile devices experiences a mental health disorder called ‘phantom vibration syndrome,’ which is what happens when your pocket buzzes and there’s no phone in your pocket?”
Moreover, Doctor Rosen told the Times in this May 12 report how “heavy use of Facebook has been linked to mood swings among some teenagers? Researchers are calling this ‘Facebook depression.’”
“Others look at how technology addiction can lead to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,” reports the Times, “and how all that medical data available online has created a class of people known as ‘cyberchondriacs.’ Perhaps most interesting of all, Doctor Rosen examines how the constant use of technology may be rewiring our brains. One study he cites calls the impact on memory the ‘Google effect,’ that is, an inability to remember facts brought on by the realization that they are all available in a few keystrokes via Google.”
Finding ways to break away from technology
While many Americans can’t get to the beach like Matt and his surfer friends when needing that “mental hygiene” break from work that keeps them wired into computers and their smartphones all day; there are ways and means to break away from technology, reported monster.com recently
For instance, one blogger notes that “while I found this 24/7 connectivity useful initially, after a while it felt more distracting than helpful. For example, when I’m online, I’d catch myself checking my emails, Twitter, Facebook, blog stats, etc., for updates every 10-15 minutes, even though I’m in the middle of other work.”
At the same time, Matt from Salem, Oregon, says he too has "issues with the cyber world just sucking you in so you sort of forget out nice it is outside in the real world."
In turn, the blogger said “the excessive connectivity has created false urgency where I feel the need to know what’s happening lest I miss something important. Not only that, the web is so vast that it’s easy to get lost in the surfing. In reading a site, one link leads to the next, and the next, and before I know it I’ve already spent a good chunk of time surfing sites that are not related to what I’m supposed to do. This would happen several times throughout the day.”
Thus, moster.com reported how it easy it is to take needed breaks from the digital world. For instance, experts advise:
-- Know what exactly you want to do online. “Without setting this intention clear, you can be easily distracted by the barrage of things online once you log on.”
-- Disconnect when you’re done. “Once your work online is done, you can disconnect and work on your priorities.”
-- Get away from your desk. “If you want, get a change in environment,” and go to the beach, the park or anywhere where tech is not going on.
-- Work on your priorities during the break. “This is a great time to read on the books you’ve been meaning to read.”
-- Go with the flow. Think for yourself. Daydream. Look out a window and go outside.
Overall, Dr. Larry D. Rosen’s new book “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us,” offers just common sense about using tech-gadgets simply as tools in the same way you hammer a nail and then put the hammer away. As Matt and his wife and friends at Pacific City say: “Surf’s Up” and that doesn’t mean surfing the Net.
Image source of Matt and wife enjoying a break after surfing at Pacific City’s famed Cape Kiwanda and the huge Haystack Rock here along the north coast of Oregon during the recent Mother’s Day weekend. Photo by Dave Masko