An Old Cure for a New Problem

0915chester“I wish this airplane’s WiFi had a better connection!”

Have you ever heard such a statement? The concept of flying 30,000 feet above ground in a 200-ton commercial aircraft engineered to safely transport humans from one continent to another was once an inconceivable feat. Yet, once we look past the phenomenon of mass-transit air travel, society searches to find itself unimpressed by something else.

Certainly, the majority of air-travelers have also overlooked the marvel of WiFi. Even while flying through the air most don’t give it a second thought. Alternatively, a complaint that the connection lacks desired strength is commonplace.

So why do travelers desire WiFi? What drives individuals to stray away from complex issues and instead focus on technology? Perhaps it is a yearning for constant contact to the outside world and not what’s immediately in front of us. Fulfilling the incessant desire for connectivity has led to what some consider the greatest modern day addiction; technological dependency.

The addiction to technology is analogous to drug abuse. Any of us are susceptible to addiction, all it takes is a taste.

The deeper we delve into our iPhones, the more we attempt to climb out of an abyss of despondency. Ironically, attempting to connect through social networks yet indirectly doing the opposite is an omnipresent paradox. Certainly, a desire for “social connection” is beautiful. Unfortunately, society is losing what genuine human relationships truly entail.

If you spend too much time “connecting,” it’s not an authentic connection. You’re simply acquiring information about somebody, whereas if you’re physically together, or allowing yourself to think about another, that’s a connection.

A current issue is Hi-Tech companies’ desire to provide universal WiFi. Though the notion of a city, nation, or universe cloaking themselves with ubiquitous free WiFi and gratuitous data sounds appealing, its potential effects are a lack of human interaction, which may lead to missed opportunities or even withdrawl from reality.

Like anything in life, we shouldn’t let technology hijack our ability to function. So how do we discontinue the slippery-slope, or at least temporarily sequester ourselves from it?

The answer is simple, and Jews have been doing it for thousands of years; Shabbat.  There’s no better way to eradicate dependency issues than alleviating oneself from the burden for an entire day.

For some, keeping Shabbat fully isn’t standard practice, and that’s fine! To start, make a conscious effort to disconnect from technology for just an hour. If you experience the peace that can come from this simple action, progress to a greater duration of severance from technology. A true connection to something greater just might emerge!

Whether detaching from work related stress, spending time with family and friends, reminiscing or simply living in the moment, Shabbat is undoubtedly a panacea for curing a number of life’s issues. Certainly, technological dependency, though relatively new to the Jewish people, is no different. The need for a break, for a Shabbat, is now more than ever!

Adam Chester graduated from UCSD with a degree in Clinical Psychology and is the NextGen Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at JFFS.

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