For the last three years, I have diligently noted down on my calendar interesting public lectures at the LSE, a short walk from the studio. And yesterday (January 10, 2012) I finally managed to attend one. It was an entertaining and stimulating talk by Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet, the four step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life.
To set the scene, Daniel Sieberg read an excerpt from the first chapter of his book where he narrates his awakening to the fact that he was so fully immersed in digital conversations and interactions, that he had lost touch with his surroundings: social and physical. He realised he had become a “Great Broadcaster, but an Awful Communicator” and was engaged in communications with everyone but himself: “I had stopped communicating with me”.
Daniel Sieberg took a total break from all online activities to re-establish engagement with his surroundings and regain an healthy balance between digital and physical interactions.
Daniel Sieberg describes the rebalancing process in four steps:
1. Create awareness of our digital behaviour and of the distortion it generates in our interactions with the people, the places and situations around us
2. Take a step back and re-immmerse in the experience of everything that happens around us
3. Connect fully with the people, the places and the situations around us, with no interruptions and no mediations by technology
4. Monitor the time spent online and the activities carried out as a means to help self-awareness and to maintain the online-offline balance
How did we get there? Daniel Sieberg singles out two key factors to explain this unbalance: 1. the fact that there are no barriers to interact with technology anymore – he used the painful dial-up internet connection tone to make the point; 2. the fact that we are social animal that take advantage of every opportunity for social interaction, reaction and eventual reward.
But Daniel Sieberg’s was not a theoretical, conceptual talk. It was a testimony and a call for action to think about our digital behaviours and the way they impoverish some of our most fundamental human activities; and to proactively seek a healthy balance between our online and offline life.