Part of my practice as a yogi is to deliberately put myself in situations or positions where I am uncomfortable and to then spend some time there. This not only helps me work out areas of muscle soreness or tightness but gives me practice for my life off the mat and uncomfortable situations I might encounter there. I practice being present and not disassociating. I wonder if my interest in and reliance on social media and technology are having exactly the opposite effect.
Yogis are not immune to the excessive use of technology. I was waiting for class to start in a small room with 20 other yogis when one woman decided to listen to her voice-mail– on speaker phone!! There is also a tremendous amount of conversation about yoga, ethics and asana that takes place on social media. FaceBook is also used as a commercial forum for promoting the many various enterprises that many yogis use to make or supplement their living.
I welcome laptops and smartphones into my classroom; my classes have closed FaceBook groups, that I hope will be a tremendous long-term resource to myself and my students. Yet sometimes when I look out at a sea of bent heads and listen to the gentle clicking of keyboards I find myself disheartened. I read articles about how FaceBook and other social media can make users feel socially isolated and unable to live up to the glossy portraits of successful lives that are presented by so many. I notice how many of students have a hard time making eye contact or carrying out conversations.
This makes me wonder if technology is changing the way we use our minds and the way we interact socially–not necessarily for the better. I greatly enjoy the ease of communication, I love that it’s a two way street and that I have many different ways of evaluating and gathering information.
I also worry that lack of eye contact if affecting our ability to learn and to connect. Studies show that eye contact affects retention and memory. Applied Ergonomics says: “In a face-to-face context mutual gaze has been shown to facilitate the encoding and subsequent recall of information.” Does gazing at a screen rather than each other affect us as instructors and learners? How do you build a learning community if people socialize through smart phones or use them as a retreat during challenging social situations?
A lot of becoming a successful electrical worker involves situations that are physically, socially and emotionally challenging. If a learners default reaction is to retreat from these discomforts, by reaching for their smart phone, how will they handle the challenges of a job-site? As a Psychology today article opines “Making eye-contact is a voluntary movement that improves with eye contact.” We all need to practice this important skill that effects cognition, learning and social connection.
One thing that is greatly encouraging to me is the rate of change of technology. I am confident that the technology that we will use to interact with each other in 5 years will be practically unrecognizable to us today.