Corporate culture has been evolving into a 24/7/365 normalcy for a couple of decades now. In the early 2000’s there was a big trend to find “work/life balance” and many business books took on the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” as a way to encourage corporate America to take a breather from the 14 hour workday. Everyone thought technology would make our lives easier and give us more free time. But, the opposite has proven true. eMarketer reported on a CivicScience poll that found pretty much everyone is always connected.

July 2014 research found that 60% of US internet users were almost always connected. Fully 43% never unplugged from all personal technology, such as audio players, ereaders, laptops and computers, mobile phones, tablets, and TV, and 17% only took a break a few times a year.

Technology is supposed to give us more freedom, but instead we not only have become addicted to our smartphones but we’ve created an entirely new condition…FOMO (The Fear Of Missing Out). As people curate their lives on social media, people now see the wonderful things they are not doing, creating an anxiety of not keeping up with Joneses in an all new digital way. FOMO

As people become more connected with their devices, they become less connected with a community and real person to person interactions. While there are a lot of studies about how this creates negative consequences for everything from good manners to car accidents, we need to get back to finding ways to break free from our devices to engage in analog activities.

Here are Broad Street’s 5 Ways To Disconnect

  1. Take a mobile phone holiday–Start small, like leaving your phone at home when you go to the grocery and gradually work your way up to leaving your devices turned off for an entire weekend.

  2. Remove social media apps from your phone for brief periods to reduce the amount of time you spend seeing what everyone is doing that you aren’t.

  3. Establish “no phone zone” with your significant other for date nights or dinners with friends. Here’s a great game: Put everyone’s phone in the middle of the dinner table when in a restaurant and the first person to reach for their phone pays the whole check.

  4. Go analog. Grab a book or magazine and challenge yourself to read without an e-reader or grabbing for your phone.

  5. Get outside. Attend an event, go for a hike or a bike ride. Getting your mind active and distracted from your devices is a good way to wean yourself off of reliance on them.

While we’re in the business of reaching our audiences wherever they are at the right time and place, we understand the need for people to break free of their dependency on technology in order to create a fulfilling life outside of posting their latest meal on Instagram. If you’re a person that responds to work emails at 10 p.m. on a Saturday you set a precedent for that offender to rely on your availability 24/7/365.

So, lift up your head and look someone in the eye and have a real conversation. The real FOMO is making a personal connection with a person, not your device.