Author of such books as ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’, & ‘Deep Work’, Cal Newport talks about a concept he refers to as isolation deprivation.
It’s interesting because lately I have been trying to weigh up the costs and benefits of living a life that involves a little more isolation than usual. I have gone from one extreme to another. Only a month ago I was living in a house with no less than 10 people constantly around. Social interaction was almost inescapable at all times of the day and night.
Now days, I am back to living on my own. Purposefully, I have come to take a break away from the load of such an abundant level of social interaction to take some time out to do some deep work of my own where my thinking is less likely to be influenced by outside forces.
I believe that periods of isolation are necessary, especially when in the pursuit of artistic, entrepreneurial and philosophical endeavors. However, I had to question myself as to whether or not I am really in isolation or not.
This goes back to the concept that Cal Newport speaks about. Since the introduction of personal computers and social media, a large number of humanity have found a way to dodge those moments of isolation by distracting themselves with technology. So, I asked myself, “Although I live alone, how much alone time am I actually getting”?
I tried to answer as honestly as possible, and my answer was quite simple – I am not getting alone time that much at all. In fact, I have found myself using technology even more since being alone. This is a mechanism to fight off my fear of boredom and loneliness.
The danger with this is, I am giving very little chance to release all that mental energy that is stored because I am constantly distracting it. Like a dog who needs exercise, it must be released from the confines of the small backyard it inhabits so it can run free every now and again, just as nature intended. So, by the time my body is wanting to go to sleep, my mind is wanting to just leap with energy.
So, earlier today I tried something. I put my phone away for an hour and a half, laid on my bed with my eyes closed and I just let my mind go. I found that there was so much mental energy wanting to be released that I had been suppressing. I felt this sense of calm begin to spread through my head and the rest of my body as I just laid there and watched my thoughts as if I were watching a movie at the cinemas.
By doing this, I was able to let it do what nature designed it to do. Although I am a huge advocate for technology, ensuring that one uses it in a healthy manner is so critical for health. Could this constant distraction be the cause for mental health issues among younger generations of today? I can definitely feel it in my mind and body, by taking that small break away from tech I feel a little more at ease, simply because I have released some tension from the mind.
It is not tech that is the issue, but rather our compulsive behaviors that lead us down such unhealthy, unnatural ways of living.