Last updated on November 4th, 2019 at 10:03 pm
BOUNDARIES IN AN OVERCONNECTED WORLD: Setting Limits to Preserve your Focus, Privacy, Relationships and Sanity
[New World Library, 280 pages]
Being a 21st century woman and extremely well-versed in all mediums of electronic technology, my first thought when seeing the title of Anne Katherine’s book, Boundaries in an Overconnected World, was smug satisfaction. Admittedly, I assumed I knew it all when it came to online technology and thought that this book would simply be a friendly review, encompassing the newer versions of social media (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). But after reading the first few pages I realized this was much more than a review of safe social media usage, proper cell phone etiquette and typical Internet cautionary tales.
Instead, Anne Katherine takes a modern approach to the subject of being “overconnected” to technology by discussing the use of boundaries to help one take control of the modern dependence on technology. She defines boundaries as, “A limit that protects the integrity, autonomy or wholeness of an entity. If your life feels out of control, unmanageable, or chaotic in any way, the boundary, will improve it.” She continues by describing the means by which boundaries can be put in place to decrease one’s dependence on technology and set realistic limits to help you gain control of how and when you use your technology.
This dependence, Anne Katherine argues, can get to a point where it interferes with our meaningful social interactions that form the basis of our relationships with family, friends and significant others. To prevent technology from affecting social interactions, she offers these words of wisdom: “If the primary reason for the event is human connection and interaction, turn off your devices. It’s also OK to ask others to do the same.”
Reminiscent of boundary theory in her other works, Katherine highlights the need to set emotional and physical boundaries when it comes to using technology. Often, we don’t even realize how much time and energy technology sucks away from us. She asks, “How many times have you started your day with a clear plan, only to have your agenda smashed to pieces by emails, texts and instant messages? An hour on the computer turns into three hours. The cat is lonely, you’ve skipped breakfast and the project you were going to start is a distant memory.” To take control and ensure that this doesn’t happen too frequently, she suggests using “focus boundaries” by making a plan and thinking about whose agenda you’re serving when engaging in your technology. Some of these ideas include:
Create an electronics-free time of day in your household – For an hour (or two or three) each day, turn off all computers and phones.
Play board games that increase knowledge and creativity – Try games such as Pictionary, Jeopardy, Trivial pursuit or Cranium. Ride bikes or take a walk together. Play touch football or just talk with each other.
Get together in person with people you care about – Turn off your phones. Look at each other. Talk to each other about your thoughts, your experiences, your discoveries. Share the questions you have about your life, and theirs, and life in general. Listen and pay attention.
Spend some cyberspace-free time alone each day – Read. Listen to music. Write stories or poems or plays or simply write in a journal. Paint or draw or sculpt with actual materials. Lie on the lawn and watch the clouds drift past.
Protect your creative pursuits – Turn off any device you don’t need when you’re in your creative mind. If you must use a computer to create—and you can afford it—get two computers. Use one just for your creative efforts. Put only the programs that foster your creative pursuit on that computer. Simplify that computer so you’re minimizing its ability to distract.
Overall, the book brings to attention the hold technology has over our free time and provides highly applicable means of limiting the impact, time and control that our devices can have. In fact, I would argue that it’s a cautionary tale of a whole different kind; not only alerting its readers about the hold that technology can have, but providing a workable solution by setting realistic boundaries that can easily be applied to any 21st century lifestyle.
image: David Niblick (Imagebase.net)