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Switch Off - Too much of nothing is just as tough!

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Matt O'Connor

Over the past 10-15 years, we have seen the rise of some of the biggest companies in the world. These smartphones & social platforms have done a phenomenal job at satisfying our basic human need for connection; they enable us to connect with our world. Having access to information, music, comedy, role models & friends can be so good for our mental happiness. But it’s widely documented that for many of us, it’s gone too far.

 

 

That’s given rise to a new wave of booming apps & businesses that promise to help us switch off from the world. We all know we should switch off more - especially at night so we can get the sleep our mindbody & economy need - but for a lot of us, it still proves too difficult.

Maybe The Spice Girls knew this was coming back in 1997 when they sang "🎵 Too much of something is bad enough, but… Too much of nothing is just as tough 🎵". Because for me, that’s what it is.
In the battle against Phone Addiction, many well-intentioned friends creators & brands take (somewhat ironically) to social media platforms - via their phones - telling us to spend less time looking at our pocket-sized screens. Understandably, this advice is often linked with the bedtime routine, as they encourage us to boycott our phones from the bedroom. But too much of no connection can be just as tough.
 
Whether they go as far to say they suffer from ‘Nomophobia’ or not, lots of people now feel uneasy at the prospect of being disconnected, and I’m with them… If I don’t have access to my phone (ie, it’s turned off or in another room in which it can’t bother me), I am, by definition - disconnected. And I’m not just disconnected from work emails, WhatsApps & tempting Instagram notifications… I’m also disconnected from calling 999 in an emergency or responding to a friend's or family’s call for help. A quick look at the synonyms of the word, and it’s clear to see why in a connected world, being disconnected - even whilst we’re in bed & sleeping - doesn’t bring peace of mind for so many of us.
 
 
More practical advice would be to utilise the Do Not Disturb Mode on phones, but I believe the full solution needs to go further than that.
By changing how ‘switch off’ feels, we can satisfy that human need for connection, whilst delivering the meaningful switch off we all need. Connection has always been part of sleep… When we’re babies, sleep time is one of the most connected times of the day, as we’re rocked to sleep in the arms of a parent or beside their bed. It’s only when we feel protected, safe & connected that we can drift off. As we got a little older and moved into our own room, we may have had safety blankets, night lights or teddies - but nothing compared to the comfort of getting into your parents' bed after a bad dream. It wasn’t every night… but even then we were able to take comfort from knowing if we needed to, we could.
 
Peace of mind is more likely to come when we feel in control, and disconnecting fully from technology takes that feeling away. So rather than vilifying connected technology when it comes to switching off & sleeping, I encourage people to realise that the future belongs to people who embrace it.
 
 
Written by our September guest:
Phil Neale - Snoozle Founder
Snoozle is a platform for friends, creators & brands that helps you switch off with your world, not from it.