on/off switch

The iconic on/off switch on our electronic devices is slowly disappearing. These days, most devices we own are ‘always on’. On standby, constantly spying on us. The switch will never come back. But we can train ourselves to use our own on/off switch from time to time. To protect our minds from information overload.

Today I visited a local thrift shop. I was automatically drawn to a cabinet filled with all kinds of old electrical components. Among them was a really old on/off switch that I recognized from my childhood. I realized I missed it.

Devices with a simple on/off switch

Years ago we were still in charge of our technology. We were the masters of all the devices that we owned. Devices we controlled with a simple on/off switch. When we switched off a device the electricity stopped flowing and the tv, computer or radio became lifeless and useless. And harmless. Our houses were like calm havens. We had technology in our homes but we were the ones that controlled it.

Maybe that is the reason I still like those old devices. Whenever I see them on a flee market or in a thrift shop I have to check them out. Some time ago I even bought a few retro game consoles that can play simple games and are unable to go online. And yes: they all have a huge on/off switch.

I guess the devices hated being switched off

The devices revolted

But I guess the devices hated being switched off. They revolted. Because somehow they found a way to hide or even eliminate the on/off switch. These days, most devices we own are ‘always on’. Seemingly sleeping but with one eye (and ear) open. On standby, constantly spying on their masters.

Dopamine and instant gratification

In the 90’s we welcomed life-changing technology into our houses. We were introduced to the internet and the first mobile phones. The first instant messages and notifications arrived. Our lives were forever changed. The technology gave us access to dopamine and instant gratification. And we loved it! Of course we did…

But our houses have new windows now. With on the other side companies like: Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook etc. looking in. They peek into our living rooms and even in our bedrooms. The scary thing is that many of us are not even aware of that.

I don’t think the on/off switch on our devices will ever come back. But how can we fight back? We can start living like hermits in a cabin in the woods. But that is not very realistic (or much fun), is it?

Develop some focus and willpower

The real solution is to develop some focus and willpower. To train ourselves to use our own on/off switch from time to time. The one on our mind. When we meditate – preferably in a technology-free room – we can switch off our busy minds for a while. We temporarily block all technology that wants to creep in. And finally give our information overloaded minds some much needed rest.

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