Somewhere between all the clicks and the swipes and the popup ads, we’re losing our soul.
I’m not the first to say it, and this doesn’t mean everything was so ideal before digital technology took over, either. Clearly humanity has always struggled with injustice, violence and existential doubts.
But industrial modernization combined with more people online for more time than ever before has presented us with challenges that haven’t been seen before, new obstacles and frustrations.
Are you losing yourself in the process? These are the three primary signs that you’re losing your identity because of the influence of tech and the most effective ways to get it back.
1) You can’t live or find meaning in life without access to internet or digital devices
This is the first sign of a tech addiction.
The majority of us require smartphones and digital devices for our work and to stay in touch with our loved ones.
But if you find that the internet has become an inseparable part of your personal identity, your tech use has crossed the line into something else.
Signs of internet addiction include feeling highly anxious away from your devices or offline as well as feeling like you aren’t really you if you aren’t posting online, talking online or using tech in some way.
2) Your physical and emotional well-being is suffering as a result of technology overuse
The next sign is that you are overusing tech to the extent that you don’t have much life outside of it.
You not only feel anxious away from your devices, internet connection and online social media accounts and apps:
You also use it everywhere you go and it’s exhausting you.
You go out for dinner with friends and spend most of the time looking down at your smartphone. So do they. You talk about what other people posted on their smartphones when you do talk, and you post what you’re eating with the best filter when it does arrive.
It’s all digital.
You feel emotionally drained and physically sluggish, but your ability to take a significant break from tech is limited. You start feeling not only anxious but also immensely bored.
3) Your decisions, values, tastes and plans have mostly been outsourced to technology
Tech has the ability to make many decisions for us, outsourcing where we drive, suggesting what to order to eat and showing us clips about what to believe.
It can even intrude into your personal and sexual life in the form of online sexting becoming your form of stimulation and pornography use becoming a significant (or even primary) source of sexual satisfaction.
These kinds of addiction are seriously damaging and can cause you to lose touch with your values, your sexuality, your decisions and your future plans.
The scary truth…
We’ve never been more connected and more alone as members of society.
We’ve never had access to so much information and so much misinformation at the same time.
Humanity has never lived in a world in which things move so fast, so impersonally and so abstractly.
This presents unique challenges and can make you feel like you’re nothing more than a number, a thumbprint or a series of passwords.
Here’s how to reclaim your identity in the midst of the mess.
1) Take short digital detoxes
The starting point for reclaiming your identity is to take short digital detoxes.
Get used to using your smartphone and computer a bit less. Take breaks for a few hours at a time from your phone.
This can be especially beneficial for staying away from your devices while you’re eating and before bed.
Instead of watching a film before bed or swiping through your phone until sleep hits, try your best to meditate before bed, read a physical book or listen to some soothing music.
2) Get out in nature
One of the best ways to get back to feeling more like yourself is to spend more time out in nature.
Go for a short walk or bike ride without your phone on.
Take a short kayaking trip with your phone turned off.
The soothing sights and sounds of nature will help you get in the frame of mind to slow down a bit and stop relying on tech so much.
3) Start doing more offline activities
Start doing more offline activities in order to connect with who you are at the deeper level apart from technology.
From board games and drop-in sports to horse-riding and taking walks with your dogs, there are a lot of offline activities that keep you healthy and away from so much dependency on tech.
The more that you get used to doing more IRL activities, the more you’ll start to see technology as a accompaniment to your life instead of as your life.
This is a big step forward!
4) Work on your physical fitness
Another crucial way to reclaim your identity is to work on your physical fitness specifically.
Get more into your body and work on your fitness level at the gym, running out on the trail, doing watersports or winter sports and any other form of exercise that’s enjoyable to you.
As you become more connected to your physical self, you’ll start having a greater sense of well-being, start sleeping better and cease having quite such a strong craving for technology.
Plus, streaming a show or chatting a bit with a friend is much more enjoyable after a day of skiing than if you were just lounging around all day.
5) Increase your attention span
One of the worst casualties of tech is a decreased attention span.
Start reclaiming your attention span by consciously choosing to focus on one thing at a time.
Start a book and don’t start another book until you finish it.
Start a project and don’t switch to another project before you finish it.
Practice fully completing a task before you transition to the next task and you’ll find that the multi-tasking type of mindset that technology encourages begins to decrease and you feel more in touch with yourself and your attention span.
6) Talk to more folks IRL
A big part of finding yourself is connecting with others.
Make an effort to talk to more folks in real life (IRL) and connect with them.
Even if it’s just centered around practical everyday stuff, you’ll find that once you start talking to more people in your day-to-day life, you become more accustomed to it and start feeling a lot more solid in yourself.
Even if you still spend a fair bit of time on your social media, texting and online friendships, your ability to connect in the real world is going to have concrete benefits.
Most of all it will make you feel like you are more connected to the real world around you.
7) Explore spirituality and religion
Finding out more about spirituality and religion is another way to start reclaiming yourself apart from tech.
Go to a retreat, a spiritual seminar or a meditation session at the nearest Buddhist center. Try sitting in on a nearby church service or relaxing in nature and reading the Tao te Ching.
You can have entire volumes of meaningful and even transformational experiences that take place offline and help you find out what you value most.
Find spiritual or religious paths that are meaningful to you and you’ll find that some of that craving for tech begins to abate.
8) Dig back into your family tree
I’m a big believer in the importance of ancestry and looking back into the details of your family tree.
Our ancestors are where we came from, hundreds of stories that helped make us where we are and created the conditions of our eventual birth.
Finding out more about that can teach you more about who you are and come into contact with the circumstances, values and culture of those who came before you.
Many of the best places to research your family tree are, of course, online, which is fine. But as you find out more, start planning in-person travel and research to visit places related to your ancestors.
9) Make more non-tech-aided decisions
Doing your best to make more decisions unaided by tech is another way to reclaim your identity in today’s age.
When you decide where to go out to eat next time, call a friend and ask for their recommendation instead of Googling it.
When you are deciding on what doctor’s clinic to visit, ask around with family and friends and see where they go and recommend.
Choose what news you consume instead of just reading or watching whatever pops up.
Start making your own decisions more and more apart from tech.