WOW Word-Of-the-Week #474: Self-control

September 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on WOW Word-Of-the-Week #474: Self-control 

Self-control restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.

How good are you at controlling your feelings? Is there any behavior you would like to have better control over? Do you feel a need to be “plugged in” to your gadgets 24/7?

This week’s WOW felt like a perfect follow up after summer and is courtesy of LA Times writer Doyle McManus. In his editorial titled, “A demon iPad stole my vacation” he writes, “I PLAN TO REMEMBER this year’s vacation season with just two words: Never again.

 Never again, that is, will I take all my technology along. The Internet has ruined summer vacations.

When I first visited my in-laws’ cabin in Ontario’s north woods 35 years ago, there was no such thing as broadband Internet. The nearest telephone was a one-mile canoe paddle down the lake, and we were beyond the reach of television. Our media diet consisted of a battery-powered radio. I know I risk sounding line an aging crank, but it was paradise.

 Now we’re cursed with all the riches of modern civilization. The cabin is close enough to get a strong cell phone signal and data via a mobile a self controlWi-Fi hot spot. Our little bit of isolation is no more.

Instead of browsing dog-eared summer-house mystery novels and bodice rippers, this year we browsed the Internet. Instead of long evenings of Scrabble or Monopoly or poker, we checked our Twitter feeds and updated our Facebook pages.

What did we lose? For a news junkie like me, being cut off for a few weeks used to be a good thing. It allowed me to read all those things I had been saving. When anyone got bored with reading, we had other pre-modern forms of entertainment: hiking, swimming, canoeing, competitive baking, stargazing and card games. My daughters would never have learned the rules of Texas Hold’Em if not for their father’s tutelage on summer vacations.

 The Internet is reducing our attention spans and making us stupid, and encourages us to lapse into our “natural state of distractedness.” Last year, researchers from UC Irvine reported that employees who were unplugged from their email got more work done – and experienced less stress.

Access to the Web is unquestionably a wonderful thing. It’s important to not let the convenience of it get in the way of the simple beauty around you. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. My problem isn’t the Internet; it’s learning how to limit the time I spend on it.

 We had a similarly experience with our grand kids a couple of weeks ago. Their dad had gotten up at 5 am to drive the RV for a day at the beach. It was Brayden’s “going away to college party.” And at 5 pm the kids where sitting in the RV playing with their phones! We have chosen not to have smart phones for that very reason. When we travel we check our email, but not constantly. I want to stay in touch with my family and my house sitter. And clean out all the spam!

This week’s focus is on self-control. What area in your life needs some restraint? Are you guilty of not being able to “unplug” during your days off? How would it feel to “make an appointment” with your gadgets and limit the time you spend on them?