Are you connected so much that it is ruining your relationships?

Do the math. I want you to calculate how much time you spend on these activities per day:

  • Browsing the internet
  • Connecting on social media through Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Playing video games
  • Watching TV or movies
  • Messing with your phone or computer

While many of us have lost the true understanding of Thanksgiving, the forced down time gives us time to appreciate loved ones over some good home cooking.

I know I am getting old. The older I get the more I realize how little I know, and the more I appreciate that my time on this planet is finite. This opinion piece isn’t going to be about digital addictions. It’s simply going to be a thought on “are you spending your time wisely?”

How many hours do you spend on those activities above? Combine that time with how much you sleep and work (if you have a job), and you’ll realize (some of you) you’re spending very little time on things that matter most. According to a study done by Nielsen, Americans consume five hours and four minutes of video programming per day. That’s an astonishing 35 hours and 28 minutes per week on video content alone. If you factor in all digital and connected content, the average American consumes 10 hours and 39 minutes per day.

If it is entertaining, educational, or however you want to justify it, I am sure you will find a way to reason with yourself that it matters.

Consider this:

  • The total number of hours per week we have is 168 total hours.
  • If you work a full time job, that’s forty hours without factoring in your commute and lunch break. Let’s just call it 9.5 hours. That is a total of 47.5 hours per week, or 28.3% of your time. (five days per week)
  • If you sleep the recommended eight hours per day, seven days a week, you sleep a total of 56 hours. That is 33.3% of your time.
  • If you’re an average American and consume 10 hours and 39 minutes per day connected to digital content, that’s a grand total of 41.4% of your time during the week. 

Add it all up, and you’re over 100% of the total allotted time in you’re week at 103%. It’s not possible to create time, which means part of your work or sleep is suffering at the expense of staying connected. There’s an even greater possibility that your friends and family are missing out on actual face time with you too.

There’s no denying that with every passing year, there is a new technology that adds to our lives in ways we never imagined before. I’m a firm believer in technology and love it as much as the next person which is why I write about it. Having the knowledge of what life was like without computers or the internet is something that I treasure. At 36, born in 1980, I consider myself one of the first of the Millennial Generation. What I appreciate most about growing up in the 90’s, is I got to see first hand how computers and the internet reshaped our world into a whole new reality. I remember having a pen pal in middle school, where I actually wrote letters to a friend across the world and would look forward to getting her response in the mail every three weeks. It took hours for me to complete my thoughts, and I made sure to get out every word I wanted to, because there wasn’t going to be an opportunity to respond for a long period of time.

In the meantime, I would go outside and hit baseballs, throw the football, or hang out with my brother, sister, mom and dad. Or I would be in scouts, out camping, doing volunteer work, or some other activity that wasn’t connected to the web simply because it didn’t exist.

That time in my life seems like a century ago, but there are lessons that I still have from my youth that stay with me to this very day.

I’m not going to claim that my current connected life is any less satisfying than it was before the internet existed, but I will challenge you to think about your own situation.

Do you really need to binge watch 20 hours of TV shows in five days? Does every single detail about your friends on Snapchat or Facebook really fulfill your life? Is commenting on the current events really going to do anything except let your frustrations out? Or does the repetitive nature of video games really entertain you so much that you need to play the same multiplayer map every single day?

As I get older, the more I realize the answer is no to all of these questions. Our time is finite and there are no guarantees in life.

Take time to reflect during this Thanksgiving weekend and decide what matters to you most. Set limits on activities that don’t matter to you as much and spend more time on the things that do matter. You can never get time back, so use it wisely.

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