Pamela Stricker: From overload to unplugged

Pamela Stricker: From overload to unplugged

By Pamela Stricker

Overloaded outlets can cause fires and most of the fires that are the result of overloaded outlets occur during the holidays. We need to pay attention to those warning labels.

But, that’s not the only thing that gets overloaded at this time of year. We do. And it often happens in very subtle ways that, little by little, creep in until we are overwhelmed with the weight.

I heard a term recently applied to friendships in the workplace and the effect it has on an employee’s productivity. It’s called “emotional overload.”

It was explained that research had shown that with friendships in the workplace comes the sharing of personal experiences, situations one is going through … some good, some not so good, some downright tragic. We feel compelled to engage when our fellow workers stop by and begin sharing. Because we care, we take on an emotional involvement. We celebrate with our co-workers, we grieve their losses and heartache with them. And it can take the focus off the responsibilities we have to fulfill.

There is another place that makes us susceptible to “emotional overload.” It’s the world of constant connectivity and media we find on Facebook.

We can stay in touch with family and friends on a regular basis. We can join in the celebrations, victories, milestones and happy moments we might otherwise have missed. We also get to share their heartaches, their defeats, their rants, their challenges.

This can have so much effect on our emotions. Scroll down through one day of posts and go from happy to sad in one nano-second after another. My heart goes out to that person who just lost a loved one. I love seeing that grandson getting an award at school, and then I’m sad I’m not there with him. I get a little envious of the people that get to be with my friend rather than me. And on and on it goes.

We hear much about “information overload” and the ramifications of that exposure on our psyche. I have heard it referred to as “infobesity,” “infoxication” and “information glut.” One I especially like, “data smog.”

Whatever you want to call it, it’s the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions caused by too much information.

So, how do I know when enough is enough?

When my digital transmission of information outweighs the transmission of information that I depend on to come from the Spirit. When all my conversation is a regurgitation of what I saw on Facebook or heard on my news app. When my “quiet time” has been squeezed by the digital devices that surround me. When taking a photo of the sunset is more important than drinking in the beauty in stillness.

Time to get unplugged. Time to create intentional space to be alone, undisturbed. Time to be present with the people in the same room without staring at the phone.

It can become so distracting that we are desensitized to the needs that are right in front of us. We miss the emotions going on around us. We miss opportunities to meaningfully engage with others because of the digital distraction.

We have become uncomfortable with silence. But I need space where I am turned off and tuned out to the noise around me.

As we approach this season of celebration, complete with plenty of additional “to do” lists anyway, I want to be present. I am going to carve out the space I know I need to unplug, to disengage from distraction, to soak in the beauty of the present, forsaking the urge to record the moment.

Join me?

Wish you all a blessed holiday season.

Salt Magazine