9 Short Tips To Balance Tech and Soul

by | Oct 22, 2014 | Uncategorized

Even Elmo has  a mobile phone | Flickr User Ed Yourdon | Flickr Creative Commons

Even Elmo has a mobile phone | Flickr User Ed Yourdon | Flickr Creative Commons

Technology! Technology!! TECHNOLOGY!!! iPhones and music streaming, Cloud storage and Facebook messenger, tablets and Tweets, photo-sharing and weather apps, touch screens and e-mail inboxes!

We live in it, fish in a sea.   It’s where your old college roommate is, where the news is, where your work calendar and task list and music are, and maybe even where your grandmother is, waiting for you on Skype, so-

Is there a way for balance and integration? If technology is how and where we meet and share, how do we go there with our whole selves, not just our shopper and gossiper and sensationalist, reactionary selves, our online Mr. Hyde’s?

Balance is possible. Polling the TJP staff, reading plentiful “tech-mindfulness” literature online, and paying attention to my own habits (good and not-so-good), I’ve compiled this list of tips to balance tech and soul:

tools | Flickr User wck |Flickr Creative Commons

tools | Flickr User wck |Flickr Creative Commons


9. Know thy tech. Our tools can become invisible, so start by taking a step back, noticing and naming what we’ve got —  all the tools, programs and websites you use on a weekly basis.  Name the things that have gone invisible. That you check and use without thinking. Then, reverence the tools, like a baker his wooden spoon, space, and stone.

8.  Know thy notification settings. What vies for your attention? How fast do you need to know? What can wait for you to check it and what needs to be “push”-ier? Are they alerting or distracting you? Maybe it’s time for no notifications!  Then, you can choose the time and place to connect on your terms.

7.  Get an interior decorator. For your home screens, desktop, and inboxes – Clean! Simple! Organized! can go a long way towards reducing stress, easing the mind, and prioritizing what’s most important when you log on.

The Author's iPhone Screens | screenshot courtesy of autho

The Author’s iPhone Screens | screenshot courtesy of author

6.  Start yourself before you start your phone. Silence before first  social media. Talk before first tweeting. Pray before first posting. Even just 5 minutes – a conversation over breakfast oatmeal, or a quick glance at the Gospel.

Vintage Copper Alarm Clocks | Flickr User Jean L. |Flickr Creative Commons

Vintage Copper Alarm Clocks | Flickr User Jean L. |Flickr Creative Commons

5.  Set tech a bedtime. Maybe a naptime. Leave it on the table when you go to bed. Or when you go to coffee with a friend – It’ll be there when you come back! Our devices don’t need to be awake every hour that we are!

4.  Practice waiting. Feel the unbearable itch to check Instagram? E-mail? Notifications screen? Wait a moment. Take a breath, and then proceed as you will, and then…

3.  Do first what you came to do. Did you log on again to send an email to your brother and catch yourself 45 minutes later scrolling through Facebook photo albums – or swimming through Youtube – or playing a word game – or reading the news – without yet having sent the email? One thing at a time, to-do’s first.

Oatmeal, in a jar.  Because of course it is.

Oatmeal, in a jar |Flickr User Maria Pontikis | Flickr Creative Commons

2.  Find your one voice. Are you a different person from Pinterest to CNN message boards, from Facebook to Reddit, from Twitter to Instagram? Tone will vary, but find your one self, your one voice, and speak it far and wide!

And finally….

1.  Rename your tech “success”: Do you measure tech success by your number of posts, number of followers, favorites, pins, retweets, or likes? Consider an alternative measure for each session or each day: A good conversation. A mind-stretching article. Beautifying your little corner of Instagram or Facebookland with an inspiring picture or quote. An email with no purpose but to affirm. Growing the reign of God in the Cloud…. “Great chat with @mom today! <3 #ftw!”


Garrett Gundlach, SJ

ggundlachsj@thejesuitpost.org   /   All posts by Garrett