It's a Connected World

It's true: Everywhere we turn there's technology, and truth be told, we can't escape it. Think about it -- I bet there isn't one place you can think of where there isn't technology. We're just a connected society. We constantly want to be in touch. Smartphones, Twitter and Facebook don't make it easy for us to disconnect either.

But what happens when we do disconnect? Well, it happened to me and let me tell you, you don't know fear until technology breaks down (OK, maybe that's a stretch!). But recently, Apple's iCloud mail service went down, affecting about one percent of all users. As luck would have it, I was part of that one percent -- my email was down and sheer panic set in. Some people may say that's a bit of an overreaction, but it's a legitimate fear ('FOMO,' or fear of missing out). So what does happen when we, much to our dismay, are forced to disconnect? There is a constant fear that we will miss out on something. And in your head, you can't stop thinking of what you may miss out on.

But that just isn't healthy. For almost 48 hours while my email was down, I was in constant fear that I would miss something. As NBC New York reports, depression and anxiety many times can be attributed to FOMO. We live in a world where news is constantly evolving and changing -- one minute it's about the iPhone 5, the next it's about Britney Spear's debut on "X Factor." This is why social media, especially microblogging sites such as Twitter, can be very dangerous. We're so used to being connected and 'with it' that when we're not, something seems extremely wrong.

So why is it that some can't just check Twitter for something to do? It turns into a compulsive activity where we constantly need to know and be a part of what's going on. While some may argue that knowledge is power, getting to the point where you almost have a panic attack when your email is down is just plain ridiculous. Yahoo! News recently reported that nearly 40 percent of 2,000 social media users surveyed stated they would rather do any of the following than give up social media:

  • Wait in line at the DMV
  • Read War and Peace
  • Do their taxes
  • Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
  • Run a marathon
  • Sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music
  • Get a root canal
  • Spend a night in jail
  • Clean the drains in the showers at the local gym
  • Give up their air conditioner/heater

You may be thinking, "Is disconnection really possible?" Well, a on a five-day vacation, a self-proclaimed social media addict and CNN journalist, Kiran Khalid, gave up social media. Not surprisingly, by disconnecting from obsessively tweeting and checking social media, she really did enjoy her trip.

Here are some quick tips to help you disconnect:

  • Start by telling your followers that you plan on taking a break or are limiting your use
  • Set limits on when you'll use it. For instance, you could set a daily limit of how many times you'll check social media.
  • Avoid it -- well, not entirely. But many teens have their social networks on their smartphones; keep your phone away from you for a bit so you're not tempted!
  • Be realistic. Social media is meant to be fun and informative, so try and keep it that way!

The bottom line is this:In a digital age, we're connected in so many ways. But remember that it's not the end of the world if you miss out on being the first to retweet Kim Kardashian's tweet or the first to know that the iPhone 5 was unveiled. Remember to take the time to disconnect from the world. We all need it, even when we think we don't. So next time you're on vacation and you see a beautiful ocean, enjoy it -- don't Instagram it.