• Living More in the Time of Social Distancing

    By Marie McGrath | Posted Thursday, March 12th, 2020

How can we make meaningful connections with the people in our lives while maintaining the social distance required for public safety?

The TLLM team addresses questions of digital wellness during a public health crisis.

In the thick of a global pandemic, it feels that the human race is holding its collective breath. Even as discoveries and plans are made about COVID-19, seemingly insurmountable uncertainty looms large for students, professionals, and individuals the world around. Amidst the chaos, there are several practices we can be sure of: serious hand washing (twenty seconds, people!) and social distancing. 

For the TextLess Live More team and all of us who work in the digital wellness space, the very concept of social distancing creates some unique professional and philosophical questions: 

What shape does digital distraction take during this shift in the quotidien and what is the potential impact–short and long-term?

What does digital wellness look like when the majority of our interpersonal interactions will likely be facilitated online?

How can we foster presence and closeness with the people in our lives while maintaining the social distance required for public safety?

Given our mission, TLLM has been ruminating on the Catch-22 of reaching and engaging with people online and through social media channels for years, but new standards of tele-working and virtual learning bring this conversation to the foreground. The fact that students can continue to attend school and that some businesses can continue to operate smoothly speaks to something that is at the center of everything we do at TLLM: technology is an amazing tool. When harnessed effectively, our phones and devices take what human beings are capable of to new levels.

However, we are all aware of the potential cost when the digital is used inappropriately. Behind the wheel, the decision to use and be distracted by technology can be deadly, and this does not change no matter the circumstances. We recognize that news alerts, travel and quarantine plans, texts from family and friends, and other legitimate and important notifications will be coming through all of our devices in the coming weeks at a higher volume than is normal. Even in a crisis, we want to stress the importance of remaining focused while you drive. Before you take the car out of park, make a plan. If you are expecting an important message, let that person know you are about to begin driving and your ETA. If you absolutely have to speak with someone, pull over safely to do that. There is a heightened sense of urgency and a different public health focus during this time, but the fact that nine Americans are killed each day due to distraction remains. Remember that as you take to the roads.

Even in a crisis, we want to stress the importance of remaining focused while you drive.

The question of the effect of the digital on our lives outside of the car looms large as well. Maintaining a tech-life balance is already challenging, and that challenge is multiplied exponentially when our careers or educations suddenly take place exclusively on screens. We recommend being especially mindful of your screen time while tele-working or learning. Make a special effort to incorporate behaviors that don’t require devices, like pen-and-paper notes or list-making, into your new routine. 

Check in with yourself about how your device is making you feel.

It’s easy to overwhelm your brain with information and opinions, even on a regular day. Set limits for yourself on social media scrolling—especially as a reaction to the anxiety or fear of not knowing, which can be especially toxic and perpetuate more frantic scrolling. Try to engage more with the parts of your device that make you feel grounded and calm—we recommend adorable animal content—and less with those that make you feel out of control.

This is an undeniably unnerving moment for us as a society, and our relationships with others are what will soothe us. Try to facilitate as much ‘quality time’ as you can with colleagues, classmates, family and friends, especially those you cannot or should not be with in-person. This could mean FaceTiming or using a video chat tool instead of texting, chatting online, slacking, or emailing.

Try to facilitate as much ‘quality time’ as you can.

We want to hear from you about strategies on staying mindful, questions or feelings about distraction, and how COVID-19 is impacting you and your ability to Live More. Stay with us in the coming weeks and months; our staff is working hard to create online workshops, resources, and materials to help you continue to engage with us and Live More.

Also, wipe off your phone screens and keyboards. Just trust us, they’re gross. 

 

 

For ideas on how to Live More, check out our GetLiving Campaign, our partners at the Digital Wellness Collective, and the amazing work of the Center for Humane Technology.