We all aspire to a high quality of life, and good health is a vital part of achieving that goal. If you don’t take care of your body, you risk suffering from injury or disease. Poor health can shorten average life expectancy. And not only will it adversely impact your physical experiences, but also your mental ability and enjoyment of life.
As important as health might be, it’s not the only factor that determines our overall well-being. Your career and social relationships are among the more familiar ones. Yet increasingly over the years, a new variable is emerging as a determinant of well-being: our relationship with technology. It’s time to take a more active role and control that influence.
The challenge of modern health
We’ve come a long way from the days of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, but when it comes to health, we still need to cover the same basic needs. Proper nutrition gives us sustenance. Physical activity keeps our bodies healthy and functional. And adequate sleep allows us to recharge and recover.
In some ways, taking care of these fundamentals might be a more significant challenge in today’s world. The market is flooded with affordable yet unhealthy food options, luring you to fill up with empty calories. Most jobs that pay well tend to avoid manual labor, encouraging a sedentary lifestyle. And the pressure of balancing work, family, and leisure can eat away into your time for sleep.
More than ever, we need to make a deliberate effort to stay healthy and fend off the influences of the modern world. We seek nutrition information on product labels and follow balanced diets. Time for exercise gets plotted into our schedules. And we look into solutions and reminders to get a good night’s sleep.
The influence of technology can make it more difficult to accomplish those goals. Extensive screen time spans both work and leisure hours. Social media and the internet can inundate us with misleading information and the urge for instant gratification. This can adversely impact not only the fundamentals of health but extend to other aspects of well-being, causing stress and anxiety.
A passive relationship
Technology has grown at a pace that seems to be accelerating non-stop at times. Devices and systems become complicated to the point where we need others to handle them on our behalf. Gone are the days of our grandparents when you were expected to manage your own car trouble. Today, most people would be better off taking their vehicle to an auto mechanic.
The same thing is true of more recent inventions, such as computers and mobile phones. When a form of technology is new, it tends to be adopted by gear-heads, geeks, and others with the know-how to manage it. Once it hits the mainstream, more users are content to surrender control.
This is generally a good thing because it reduces the burden of shadow work on the consumer. You don’t have to be your own computer technician (unless that’s something you enjoy doing). You can save time and let others worry about the details of technology.
But if this becomes your default approach to dealing with technology, it can shift the entire dynamic. Your relationship with technology turns passive. And it amplifies the potential negative influence of technology on your well-being.
Tech companies are under too much pressure to deliver solutions in various industries. They might test extensively but not exhaustively. Thus, social media entered the mainstream before we understood the risks of cyber-bullying and fake news.
The nature of human invention is to ‘shoot first, think later.’ We innovate and introduce new things to society, only to later discover any harmful side effects. It’s unreasonable to expect that to change in the future.
As individuals, we have to manage how we use technology if we are to enjoy a good quality of living. It’s not enough to make time for a workout each day or over the weekend. You also have to schedule a break from your devices and put them away before going to bed. Do a digital detox, even for an hour each day, and rediscover the benefits of face-to-face social interactions.
Along with keeping a watchful eye on your nutrition, you have to ensure a steady diet of quality information. Train yourself in the skill of verifying online sources for credibility. Curate your social media feed and weed out the self-interested influences whose posts are creating status anxiety and fear of missing out.
It’s yet another burden for us to handle moving forward. But technology is intertwined with our lifestyles. Taking active control of that relationship is the only way to retain its benefits while enjoying positive well-being.