Could “unplugging” make you unhappy?

Could “unplugging” make you unhappy?

Do you get a little rush when your phone buzzes, alerting you to a new text message? Does your heart skip a beat when you see that friends have commented on your Facebook status? Can’t go to sleep without checking your email just one more time? You might be one of millions of Americans who find it difficult to “unplug” from gadgets. Thanks to technology, we can be constantly connected to our social network. But are we too tuned in?

According to a survey of 1,000 people in the United Kingdom, about half of those asked said they felt sad when they couldn’t access the Internet, and 40 percent said they felt lonely when they were unable to log on to the Web. The participants were first asked about their attitudes toward smartphones, social networking sites, email and other devices. Then, they were cut off from them for an excruciating 24 hours. That meant no Facebook, e-mail, phone calls or text messages.

Some of the tech-deprived Brits went so far as to describe the experience like quitting smoking cold-turkey.

A similar study from the University of Maryland challenged 200 students to quit technology for a day and asked them to blog about it; they wrote the equivalent of a 400-page novel, reporting that they felt alone, anxious, secluded and isolated when they couldn’t communicate with their friends near and far.

The results are not surprising, say researchers, as these modern methods of communication have become ingrained in our way of life and daily activities. Connection gives us comfort.

But there’s nothing like good old fashioned face-to-face contact for real connection. Put down your phone at dinner and spark up a conversation and flash a smile instead of texting an emoticon. Take a break from your techie gadgets and reach out to the real world.

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