One of the most important trends in 2019 will come in the form of reclaiming control over our time and our attention.
People are feeling the negative impacts and unintended consequences of being overly connected. Some are already talking about using their phones less and extolling the virtues of disconnecting from social media. Others will advocate deleting accounts entirely. And some others will take breaks, go on “fasts,” or attempt to decrease the time spent online.
Of course, there’s a lot of this that is New Year’s resolution material, and that will fade fast. The problem is significant though and the act of taking back our time and attention can shape the culture of 2019 and beyond.
One of the drivers rests on our current political climate. It has made participating in social media, exhausting. Regardless of your political leanings, the pace at which we receive new information is overwhelming. Combine that with blatant attempts to trigger a reaction from us with sensational headlines, and it has worn us down.
We’re starting to realize that blocking or unfriending in an attempt to filter the information we didn’t want to see or like, isn’t the solution.
The noise has become too much, and we are desperate for a reprieve.
We’ve also become increasingly aware of the intrusion of devices into our lives and homes. We are more cautious about the sacrifices of privacy in the name of connection and convenience. And we are seeing the effects of how much it has cost us.
The constant connection has added to the frenzied, harried nature of our daily lives. Seeing everyone around us impacted by the same forces only serves to normalize it.
Lest you think this is a generational thing, my teenage son and his friends all grew up with phones in their hands. Interestingly, they also share a particular disdain for the onslaught of devices touted for their ability to connect. They enjoy the conveniences but see it for what it has become. And attempts to peer into their young lives aren’t as welcome as you might think.
Of course, this is still happening. Technology will continue to evolve. We aren’t about to completely detach from it.
And our time and attention will continue to be the most valued commodity.
The question is, will place the same value on it ourselves? Will we take back the control we’ve ceded, and become more deliberate with our time and our attention?
Perhaps the biggest challenge social media channels or phones in general present is not just their ability to capture our attention. It is how they are designed to keep it.
We’ve all lost 10, 15, 30 minutes or more mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds. Our original intent may have been to check a simple text message. We somehow become instantly distracted and may never end up reading the message we intended to read in the first place.
This is the power technology has come to wield; to divert our attention away from our intentions.
It happens before we even realize it.
And that’s the first step, recognizing what’s happening so we can take back control and act with deliberate intention.
2019 – The Year of Intention
Taking a break from your phones, social media, or media in general, is a noble idea. The real question is, for what purpose?
Is it that you just need a break or do you need to consider reshaping our relationship with the way you consume information?
Will a “fast” be enough or, rather than reacting to the stimulus of technology, can you set it up to serve your needs?
Many applications can be easily customized, but all too often we accept the default settings. There’s nothing wrong with that device in your hand. There’s nothing wrong with using social media or watching Netflix or any of it, as long as you are the one deciding when, why, and for how long.
Technology is wonderful. It’s even better when we take control.
We all have goals or at the very least, hopes for what we will accomplish this year. To make them a reality, we have to act with intention.
Acting with intention starts by understanding that our time and attention is valuable, and it is in our power to choose where and to what we give it.
Acting with intention starts by finding the space just before we decide, where we can align our thoughts with our value and then take action.
2019 is the Year of Intention.
That is, as long as you decide it will be.