Yes, gadgets are great inventions, very handy and convenient. The genius of the whiz kids who invented these portable, technologically advanced marvels that connect us 24 / 7 and make life easier is undisputable. It’s believed that during an evolutionary upsurge, the gene microcephalin sprang up in our species and enabled us to think symbolically. Later, the gene ASPM drove us to craft cities. Now emerges an unnamed gene to build gadgets that dramatically make the world more accessible.… For the first time in the history of the Homo sapiens, some 700 million of us are laughing at the same jokes forwarded at lightning speed. Welcome to the Era of Bonding, the Age of Euphoria.
Ah, but let’s laugh and bond in good health, yes? Let’s use our gadgets at the required time, not all the time. Why not? Well, we do live in an electromagnetic field and already receive low-energy Radiofrequency (RF) radiation from outer space, the sun, sky, earth. If our body fluids absorb large quantities of RF radiation, it can produce heat that can burn and damage healthy body tissue. When we watch TV, listen to radio broadcasts, use our cellphones, laptops, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, live or work in proximity to cellphone towers, we continually expose ourselves to more RF radiation.
As yet, there is no precise information on how safe our environment is vis-à-vis these radio frequencies. But it’s good to be aware of the health risks unofficially attributed to their emissions: headaches, insomnia, brain tumours, cancers, multiple sclerosis, depression, autism. There’s been a lot of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ regarding the safety of microwave ovens. The latest is: they’re safe. Apparently, when the water in foods absorbs microwaves, the water-molecules merely vibrate and produce heat, but the foods’ molecular and chemical structures remain unchanged. And since microwaves don’t use x-rays or gamma rays, they don’t make food radioactive.
However, we must tread cautiously and with responsibility. We need discernment to enable us to make our lives as safe as possible. We need compassion to know that our commercial pay-offs should not cause harm to others. We need health to live to our fullest potential. Meaning: we need to take precautions. As friend Narayan jokes, “Be smarter than your Smartphone!”
Topping the smart-list are:
• Don’t keep your cellphone in your pocket; don’t hold it in your hand when you’re not using it. It’s particularly important not to keep it in the shirt pocket as the heat could reach the heart tissue.
• Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime. Smartphone, laptops, computers, TVs, tablets disperse blue light into our eyeballs, thus, preventing sound sleep. A recent study found that kids with TVs, computers or Smartphone in their bedrooms sleep 18-21 minutes less per night than kids with no electronic gadgets in their bedroom. Lack of sleep can cause obesity, low concentration and poor academic performance. This holds true for adults too — after all, we’re grown-up kids!
• For the same reason, please don’t expose yourself to these appliances and gadgets first thing in the morning. Expose yourself to sunlight — it’s still the best fix to improve alertness and productivity.
Overall, it’s about pragmatically balancing our lifestyles — alignment with the digital world but not dependence. Choose to have off-screen days than off-days. The more we ingest pieces of multiple information from the web, the more we need quiet spaces to contemplate, make associations, infer, create, be open to spontaneous insights. However plastic and brilliant our brain, it still needs pressure-free breaks and experience emptiness to help us become mentally more resilient and less stressed out.
When you are in the digital world, you are practically unconscious. A lady, affectionately nicknamed Mama, was Chairperson of a spiritual institution in Chicago. She was overweight, but insisted she was controlling her diet rigorously. It was observed that at night, Mama would sleepwalk to the refrigerator and eat a pie. So, the observer emptied the refrigerator. That night, when Mama opened the refrigerator, there was no pie. With the break in the pattern, her eyes opened and she realised what she had been doing.
When your mind is drowned in the digital world, you become oblivious to the important things in life. You eat unhealthy food, procrastinate on tasks, and get cross when interrupted.… Essentially, you’ve got to become aware of where you’re heading, pay attention to what you eat and drink, ensure that you get sufficient exercise, spend time outdoors without any gadget, allow your natural, rational, patient, caring self to re-emerge.
To open your eyes, break the pattern and re-wire your habits:
• Schedule little blocs during the day for healthy practices — 20–40 minutes to exercise; 30 meal-minutes to eat leisurely; 30–90 minutes to meditate, read, paint, write, sing, listen to music, daydream. Ensure that you are not at the beck and call of any gadget during these beautiful blocs.
• Meditate daily: Still the body until the muscles stops twitching and learn to relax. Allow every part of your body to let go tension and become restful. Pay attention to your breath until it becomes smooth and even. All kinds of thoughts will arise. Observe them without reacting to them. As you continue watching your breath, you will feel a deepening sense of peace…. And the compulsion to look at your gadget will vanish. The mind is free.
Above all, realise there is a life without gadgets. It’s called Life.
The writers are authors of the book Fitness for Life