Technology: The mother of all inventions.
But as the famous historian, Christian Lous Lange, once said:
“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master”.
With the world at your fingertips, being online is one of the greatest experiences. It can help you learn, relax, and stay connected to loved ones.
But social media (and the internet in general) is highly addictive.
And studies are finding that technology can have a detrimental impact on our mental health when used obsessively.
Are you in control of your technology use? Check out these 6 signs you’re letting technology rule your life (rather than benefit it).
1) You can’t go anywhere without your phone
The first clear sign you’re letting technology rule your life is if you can’t go anywhere without your phone – not even when you’re at home.
Yes, I know, we all rely on our phones for everything now and wouldn’t go out without them.
But could you not check your phone all day when you’re at home?
I used to do this in my early twenties. When I was at home on the weekends, I’d frequently leave my phone in my bedroom and get on with my day.
I’d chat to my family, read my book, sit outside in the sun, study for an upcoming exam, or watch TV. Sometimes I’d even head out for a run or a walk and leave it behind!
But most of the time, I’d just leave it away from me and do other things.
My friends would get very frustrated about it. They’d often accuse me of ignoring them when I could go hours without replying to their messages – even though I wasn’t out or doing anything.
They simply couldn’t understand how or why I would walk around the house without my phone.
“What if something happened and someone called you and you missed it?” – they’d say panickily.
First of all, I’d usually hear it if my phone was ringing repeatedly. But secondly, what are the chances of that happening?
Living my life in fear that something bad would happen to a relative whenever I was away from my phone for a couple of hours is, ultimately, very sad.
Because unfortunately, I think they were letting technology dictate how their day would go – based on whether someone else needed them – rather than what they wanted to do.
2) You get down when no one likes your social media posts
There’s good and bad in having social media. Experts have long since reported the benefits of being connected to your friends and family around the world.
But they’ve also studied just how damaging it can be for your mental health.
Social media makes it incredibly easy to compare your life to others. It also makes it easy to feel inferior or like your life is less-than-perfect compared to everyone else’s.
People who use social media well will post something to share it with friends, family, or to turn their account into a semi-journal that lets them look back on their days.
And those people often don’t mind if they don’t get likes or messages – because it’s not the reason why they’ve posted.
But when you let technology rule your life, not getting likes deeply impacts you. It makes you feel isolated, lonely, or even depressed.
3) You get FOMO (fear of missing out) when you can’t go online
Picture this: You go on vacation for three beautiful weeks.
The sun is shining and your days are full of good food, warm weather, and lounging on the beach.
But there’s just one problem: Your phone has no internet connection whatsoever.
How do you feel? Relieved and glad to be away from it all?
Or anxious? Bored? Like you’re missing out on something?
Because what are your friends talking about in the group chat? By the time you’re home, you’ll have missed the conversation!
Or what stories are your friends posting on Instagram? If you don’t check your phone in 24 hours, the story will be gone forever and you’ll never know what they were doing!
Or even if you can’t check TikTok, what videos are you going to miss? What drama or new trends will pass you by? By the time you’re home, you’ll be way behind everyone else.
If those things worry you while you’re disconnected from the internet, it’s a bit of a bad sign. Technology could be ruling your life, rather than benefiting it.
4) You scroll even when you’re out with people
My ex’s brother would frequently do this – and we all agreed he was addicted to his phone.
Every time we went out for a meal, visited the shops together, or got together for a visit to someone’s house – he’d be there scrolling on his phone.
Sure, he’d still chat to us. But the phone would always be in his hand.
If he put it on the side to engage in the conversation fully, he couldn’t go more than a couple of minutes before picking it up again.
And it wasn’t just us he did it with, either.
When he was out with friends, he’d be posting all over his social media stories and messaging constantly in the family group chat.
And it was pretty clear that no matter who he was with or where he went, he’d be checking his phone almost constantly. And trying to talk to whoever he wasn’t with!
5) You never sit in silence without using any technology
What do you do when you’re out for dinner with a friend and they go to the toilet?
Or when you get home from work and sit on your sofa alone?
Do you immediately pull out your phone and start scrolling, messaging, or reading things online?
Or do you just sit/lay there in comfortable silence – with nothing but your own mind to keep you company?
Being too connected impacts your sleep, focus, productivity, mood, relationships, and your health – and not in a good way.
Experts recommend spending one day a week as disconnected as possible from technology and screens.
And if that idea sounds absolutely impossible to you, that could be a bad sign.
6) You struggle to pay attention to anything that isn’t virtual
Listening to someone speak? A struggle.
Reading a paperback book? A struggle.
Writing something down for more than 30 minutes? A total struggle!
When you rely on technology, you use it for everything. And you find it difficult to concentrate on anything that isn’t quick, easy, and virtual.
You’ll watch videos online, listen rather than read anything, and always opt for your Notes app or an email rather than write anything down physically.
If tech really is ruling your life, you may even find face-to-face social interactions difficult, and prefer talking to people online where you don’t have to physically speak.
There are so many benefits to the technology we have today.
There’s no denying that it’s improved so many things about our lives – from ordering food shopping to staying connected to relatives around the world.
But it’s also become highly addictive.
When you use technology too much or in the “wrong” way, it can start impacting your focus, social skills, productivity, and mental health.
The trick with technology is to use it in a way that compliments your life – rather than controls it (and not in a good way!).
Which is perhaps easier said than done. But it all starts with awareness – and even by just reading this article, you’re taking the first step to regain control of your life.