When the Impact of Digital Tech on our Mental Health Begins to Matter
Seeing ourselves through the eyes of our children and our tech
The above photo is from the Weconomics convention last year, where I had the opportunity to pre-present my book Life Beyond the Touch Screen before its official launch in 2020. Something really interesting happened during my session.
I never presented my book as much as I simply told a story about my personal experience with technology and mental health.
In my presentation and workshop I mostly just shared the story about my own experience with digital dependency and with burnout.
In that story I recount how for about two years I was simply asking far too much from myself; my body and my brain. And how looking back, I could easily retrace the steps that led to my inevitable collapse, more or less.
The fun part is that — though I do mention here and there that study after study is showing the possible heinous effects overuse of digital technology can and probably does have on our mental health —
Digital technology is not the root cause in my story.
Digital tech is your black mirror
Digital technology, in my personal experience, is simply a (black) mirror that shows us what we’re actually giving our focus and attention to — as compared to what we think our priorities and values are. If we let it, it can show us what’s really going on under the surface.
My talk at the Weconomics convention was by far the best received ‘performance’ I have ever given. The reactions from listeners were easily 10x those of my greatest and best performances in my time as a musician.
I think it had to do with relevance, vulnerability and authenticity.
But there was something else that absolutely stood out to me as well.
When do things start to matter to humans?
I saw faces in the crowd change, and I noticed the tone of the discussion become much, much more serious when we started talking about the impacts of tech on our younger generations. Our kids.
What if our children are already, inevitably headed to digitally-induced mental health disaster, and there’s not much we can do now to stop the train?
Touching as it may have felt, it also had me worried. Why can we suddenly see how serious something can really be impacting our focus, energy, creativity, productivity — generally; our growth and wellbeing — when it’s about our children? Why can’t we see that when it’s about ourselves?
You want my blunt, honest opinion? I think it’s a combination of an underdeveloped capacity to seriously self-reflect as human adults, with an underdeveloped degree of self-love.
And the funny thing is: if we want a better world and a better future for our children — it starts exactly there: with ourselves, our self-love and self-awareness.