Balance is key during digital age

On my flight down to Miami at the beginning of the school year, the light-hearted flight attendant instructed us to shut off all electronic devices for take off: “Turn off your iPods, your iPads, your iPhones, your Blackberries, your i-yi-yis…”

We all chuckled at his remark, but perhaps his message was meant for more than just laughs.

In our modern world, we move from one screen to the next: cell phone, to iPod, to laptop, to TV. These devices promise to connect us and help us organize our lives.

Ten years ago, who would’ve imagined a future where people could connect thousands of miles away with Skype or Google+ hangouts, and stay in touch with high school friends through Facebook.

But can this connectedness reach a point where it becomes detrimental? I believe that people often become too attached to the digital world, forgetting to enjoy the world around them.

We all know that person who is constantly texting, checking emails, or updating Facebook on his or her iPhone.  These people often feel distant to those around them because they are. Their minds are elsewhere, not focused on what is going on around them. Humans are social creatures and being with other people makes us happy, yet sometimes technology takes away from the time spent with others and ourselves.

With so many ways for people to occupy their time, it can certainly be said that we live in a complex and wired time. Perhaps it’s wise to step back from this brave, new world of connectivity, and examine what is useful and what is hurtful.

It can be a relief to step away from all your screens for just a few minutes or maybe a few hours, and take the time to enjoy what is around you.

You can go for a walk outside and do some thinking, talk with friends, read or play sports.  These simple activities can teach you a lot about yourself and others, and are surprisingly enjoyable.

Leading a simpler life can lead to less stress, a better understanding of yourself, and more time spent with the people and activities you enjoy most. The digital age certainly does provide us with great connections and capabilities, but, as with all things in life, balance is key.

Paul Levy is a freshman majoring in physics.