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Reclaiming Our Attention by Lisa Gayhart

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Last November, I started an experiment. I was feeling drained from long days in front of my devices. I felt like I couldn’t focus. I was irritable and distracted. I was tired of giving my best to screens.

I did a little reading and eventually came to the decision to do a technology fast of sorts. Like any lifestyle change, it was very difficult at first. But the more time I spent experimenting with different ways of using tech every day, the better I felt. The weekends felt longer and I felt less scattered. I didn’t bring my phone to meetings or events. With my head up, I saw very clearly how much of ourselves we are handing over to our devices.

This all sounds magical, wonderful, and full of meaningful revelations about life. But, like most things on the internet, it’s not the whole story. Today, I’m right back where I started.

Our relationships with technology are often left out of discussions on health and wellness. For many of us, technology is an ever present and growing force in our lives. Over the last decade or so, we have gradually outsourced our daily thinking and doing to technology. Getting up to flip the record or turn on the radio, walking across the bedroom to set your alarm clock, navigating to an appointment with written directions or a map - these common tasks are increasingly uncommon. Technology is everywhere and it’s not all bad. Today’s technology is amazing! We form relationships around the world, educate ourselves, discover new talents, find solace in like minded groups, start businesses, partake in democracy, and so much more.

Living with tech is not an all or nothing situation: like most things in life, our relationship with technology requires more nuance, more balance. We can design our tech use, intentionally and with purpose, to be something useful and enjoyable. We don’t need to feel drained and stressed by our devices.

In a series of posts this summer, we’ll look at our tech habits and how we got here; learn ways to increase our digital wellness; and discover new corners of the internet - and maybe even ourselves.

In the meantime, let’s start noticing our habits and how we feel:

  • What does your relationship with tech look like?

  • Do you feel drained, pressured to stay in the loop, overwhelmed with information?

  • How do you feel after some time scrolling: drained or energized?

This summer, we reclaim our attention. We make space for more outdoor adventure, more creation, more stargazing, more memories. Our devices will always be there for us.

Let’s share our thoughts and experiences on Instagram at #ritualattention, through this site, or in class. But not in real time - enjoy the moments. xoxo

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Lisa Gayhart works in higher ed technology as a UX researcher, academic librarian, and instructor. She’s currently researching digital wellness, in hopes of helping university students cultivate healthier relationships with technology and devices. Lisa is also a Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training student with Ritual Island. She’ll be moving you away from your devices and into your bodies SOON.

@lisagayhart