Right to Disengage-A new frontier

It’s the era of information overload. We are constantly bombarded by sensory inputs from all directions. Gone are the days when people used to have free time (aka a free mind). Now we are part of the contagion of “tweeple”, not people anymore. Our limited attention spans are even more distracted by our ever active smartphones, laptops and smart TVs.

But, we need to ask ourselves this question, “have we engaged too much with this virtual jungle?”. Even as we seem to be more connected online, we seem to lose touch with real people as we speak. A worrying trend. A “Big Data” revolution is already raging quietly, in the background, while we are blissfully unaware. The rampant monetization of personal data is another worry.

Main offenders causing the chasm of real life vs reel life is social media. What started as an attempt to connect far away people has in fact alienated people who are near to one another. Nothing seems more piquant that travelling in public transport and seeing drooping necks and shoulders, something that should be practiced at funerals. Or maybe sense of being human is slowly dying away. A worrisome prospect indeed.

So, why is right to disengage with online world so important? Let’s take a look at the following points:

  1. Too much mental noise: As such we battle everyday to keep our concentration during our work and its constantly challenged by beeping smartphones. This leads to diminished mental capacity to concentrate.
  2. Information is the new caffeine: Just observe your own behavior when you get up in the morning. Do you look at your family members, the sun or your smartphone? Do you speak to your wife/kids first or check your email, fb, twitter, or RSS feed? You get the point.
  3. Information is not wisdom: Just reading mounds of data isn’t enough. Your brain needs time to assimilate this much information, Distractions only make it tougher to achieve this objective. Our minds have indeed become cluttered with useless things which we aren’t able to discard. Truly , a case of “hoarditis”
  4. There’s a very small and growing wave against slavery of our minds: Some have taken their anti-social-network stance public to espouse the need to cut out such attention draining tumors from our minds(This author has also moved in the same direction, albeit privately, and is no longer on FB and Twitter). Authors like Cal Newport, shatter the perception that a distracted mind is good. (you can read why he advocates leaving SM and still is alive in the world, here)

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The right to disengage is something I thought of from one of the marketing lectures I attended just yesterday in my MBA school. The marketing concept is about engaging customer. I wondered why the right not engage by the person is never discussed as a counter argument. For the detractors, distraction means a money-making tool disguised as connecting tool. having been on social media for sometime, I never found any useful value addition which such networks provide in lieu for my limited attention span. Thus this makes me more of “me”, than just likes on FB.

The right to disengage should be on one’s own terms and should never be dictated by what people think or friends believe, it’s whats right for you. and no one will knows this better than yourself. This right means using social media on own terms, having time to professionally and personally grow , do quality work and spend time with family or even yourself! Somewhere down the line I hope people realize that in our short lives, we really are short of time to do meaningful things.

This involves taking up activities which grant a sense of deep satisfaction and well-being. Being selfish is key here, for you have only limited mind space to expend. Your time needs to be spent on family, friends, yourself, studying, introspection, reading and the list is endless.

Thus the right to disengage has a far deeper meaning. It means prioritizing important like an adept manager, cutting useless distractions like an expert surgeon as well as make an effort to be oneself like a hermit. Not doing so means a mental death despite a thriving digital life.

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