Creating Media and a Tech-Free Zones

In this edition of the Take Charge of Change podcast, we will discuss why creating technology and media free zones is critical to your personal and professional success.
The thousand channel universe, social media, and technology are all crying out for attention. Many social scientists and psychologists would argue that the human brain was never meant to function in a 24/7 news and information age. There may be positives attached to these technologies, but there are significant negatives as well. There are much-needed cognitive practices and strategies that we need to learn to ensure that we are not derailed intellectually, emotionally and relation-ally during this exploding information and technology age.

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Let’s talk about the impact of media. Your brain has a couple of small, almond-shaped structures called the amygdala. The amygdala’s primary role is to attune us to potential danger. It’s a part of the brain that triggers the fight or flight response. That part of the brain that gets you ready to run from the tiger. Unfortunately, the amygdala has a tough time differentiating between real threats and perceived threats. Because of this, it’s important to understand the connection between the microchip, technology, the proliferation of information, the drive for viewership by the media and how these factors and can lead to overwhelm and diminished capacity.

Media’s job is to perpetuate anxiety in our lives on a day-to-day basis so that we will pay attention to the news information that they are churning out. News outlets know we pay way more attention to the negative stuff. Much of this information is not relevant to our day-to-day lives. In fact, we could ignore it for weeks or months without it having a significant impact on our lives. However, when we expose ourselves to this media content, we drive the amygdala into action. As the amygdala is activated, one of the results is the diminished capacity of the prefrontal cortex, the logical thinking and planning part of our brain. We begin to experience increased surges of adrenaline throughout the body; we lose our ability to see the broad range of options needed to make good quality decisions, and our focus begins to narrow. Decision-making and compromised reasoning skills!

So, what are some strategies you can use to fight this secret war that is waging against your peace of mind?

First – Question Quantity

Ask yourself the question, “Am I consuming too much media?” If you are like many people, media and technology have likely become constant companions. You wake up to the radio, there’s news on your smartphone, you hear it on your drive to work, you unconsciously view news sites on your computer, it’s on the radio again during dinner, it’s on the TV or your computer during the evening. Your brain and its poor little amygdala don’t stand a chance! Low-grade anxiety will likely arrive, and your view of the world will become negatively skewed, and your overall health is degraded. So step one, look at ways of reducing media consumption.

Second – Create Media Free Zones

Consider media free zones. As a start, get all media out of the bedrooms. Make the bedroom a sanctuary from all the crazy noise out there. No computers, smartphones or iPads. Replace these things with great books. Quality sleep is critical. Without it, your mental, physical, emotional and professional life will suffer.

Third. – Keep Dinner Tech-Free

Make the dinner table a media and technology free zone. That doesn’t mean you don’t talk about current affairs. In fact, that would be a great idea. It prompts you to discuss current events in a more substantive way than the five-second sound bites offered by the media, and it’s a great way to build those meaningful relationships. When you go out for dinner, keep the phone in your jacket. The calls and messages can wait.

Forth – Work More Wisely

At work, consider media free zones. Start having meetings and discussions that involve no technology. This approach will lead to less distraction, and maybe your discussions will be more productive. When in a presentation put the phone away. Show some courtesy to the presenter, and maybe you’ll learn something. When in a board meeting leave your phone in your office. Direct your full attention to the discussion. Maybe you’ll learn something and make a contribution.

Fifth – People First

In your conversations with people, make it a point to ignore the technology. The e-mails and calls will still be there when you’ve completed the interaction. Nothing affirms people more than placing your entire focus on them when in conversation. When going out for dinner, eating meals with family or going out for coffee with a friend put the phone away. Break your habit of having to get your dopamine fix by being on your phone all the time. Use these times to focus on people and relationships – not the phone

That concludes this edition of the take charge of change podcast. I hope you found this content helpful. To dig deeper into the whole topic of personal, professional resiliency be sure to download our free e-book – the resilient professional.

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