• Patrick McAndrew

Why Simplicity Is Crucial In An Increasingly Complex World

“It’s all BS!”

I recently spoke with a friend who isn’t from this country.  I was telling her about The Low Tech Trek and about how I run an organization which provides digital wellness services to businesses, schools, and families. She is familiar with my work and knows that I speak on these topics. She also knows that I coach individuals one on one on how to improve their communication skills in the digital age.

“It’s all BS!” she said.  At first, I was taken aback. “Whaaaat?! The work I am doing is BS?! No way, no how! There is a demand for this work! Families need help! People need help!” She continued.

“All people have to do is put down their phones. That’s it! We are making things way too complicated!” My friend is also passionate about this topic and is also trying to address these growing concerns.

Dealing With Complexity

She has a great point. While our lives are becoming increasingly complex, we, in the digital wellness space, are searching and searching for solutions to our society’s growing consumption with technology. We have a long laundry list of possible methods to help ease the problem:

  • Design apps that monitor the time spent on our phones

  • Design apps that prevent us from spending too much time on our phones

  • Design new technology that will allow us to focus more on our surroundings than our screens

  • Practice meditation and mindfulness

  • Devote time in nature

  • Digital detoxes

  • Or, my method, improve human relationships and social skills

This list can go on and on, but you get my point. There are mountains upon mountains of research published about how social media and excessive screen time can lower our self-esteem, cause depression, and significantly increase our chances of mental illness. It’s no secret that, with the ease of the Internet, we are more able to compare ourselves to others. Everyone’s life seems incredible next to our boring, mundane life.  We can feel like we aren’t amounting to anything.

No more than two years ago, there wasn’t much conversation going on about this. While there were books and research published on this topic, the digital wellness field did not start to take off until this year. Since, there have been a multitude of startups that have begun to pop up to address these concerns. Conferences and events have been planned and there is a race to fix this issue head on.

While I admire the tenacity of these organizations and individuals, it’s important to remember that we don’t want to get lumped in with the rest of the noise.  We don’t want to be sending emails and messages out every, single day.  While it’s important to market our work, we don’t want to make things even more complicated than they already are.

The Simple Solution

I find that there is a simplicity that is being overlooked.  My friend reminded me of this. While I may not agree with her fully that this work is “BS,” her simple suggestion of putting down the phone solves all issues. If we just develop good habits in our digital lives, all the issues we are facing will considerably decrease. If we teach our kids, our students, and our business associates the value of relating and connecting with one another, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, then our problem is solved.

Just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it is easy. This still takes a considerable amount of work. We must continue doing our research as we work towards solutions, but we must do so without creating more noise. We must do so without pile on information with no meaning. In order to achieve a peaceful, happy, fulfilled life, we need to make our lives less complex. We must make them simpler. The end goal is simply to use our phones when necessary and to make time for ourselves and others without the phone being present. It’s that simple. In order to find solutions, we must develop ways that will make our outer world vastly more interesting than what is happening on the screen. This is the key to unlocking our potential in the digital age.

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