With a mind-blowing background in technology for someone so young -- he worked with Fisker Automotive, the X Prize Foundation, and the Naval Research Laboratory all before he finished his bachelor’s degree -- Alex Capecelatro has more knowledge than most of us to solve his problems. But there was one issue none of his gadgets or science knowhow could cure.
"When I was traveling around for work and school, I found it difficult to find people nearby that liked to do similar things as me,” he wrote to Inc.com. "Technology does so much for so many, yet it does very little to connect us together in the physical world."
He’s not alone in noting that we live in an age of isolation and that our technology plays a role in our loneliness. Studies suggest more time on Facebook may correlate with feeling more depressed and some of the tech elite have publicly confessed to worrying about technology overload. The solution for many is to to sharply limit their exposure.
Capecelatro took a different approach, developing a tech tool to help solve his problem of lack of offline connections. His brainchild, At The Pool, is a social platform that helps like-minded people nearby connect in person and bond over shared interests. But no social network alone can ease our loneliness and beat our destructive tech compulsions. Getting the most out of your gadgets without allowing them to take over your life, Capecelatro believes, is also a matter of behavior. He offered five tips to help you walk the line between tech enabled and tech addicted:
Try Something New Over the Weekend
"Activities that better your physical and/or mental well being are always a plus. Try stand-up paddle boarding or surfing for the first time,” he says. “Websites like Groupon and Living Social are great places to help you find fun things (at a discounted price). Just remember, it’s not about staying online and browsing the deals, but getting offline and living the experiences."
Get There Quicker With Tech
Technology may not be a replacement for a social life but it certainly can help your social life involve less sitting in traffic. "Unless you live in a rural town, you’ve dealt with serious traffic jams. Here are some saviors to make your life much easier. Uber and Lyft are amazing (and inexpensive) car services that will pick you up in any city they are affiliated with. Waze is a phenomenal app that finds you the fastest route based off of other people driving. Parkme can help you find parking in even the most congested places," suggests Capecelatro.
But where exactly should you be trying to go? Another thing tech is good for is loading up on information and suggestions before you leave the house. "Applications like Yelp and Ness are great tools to help you find new places to eat and drink."
Phone? What Phone?
OK, you’ve decided where to go and how to get there, now make sure you don’t see or hear your phone again. "We’ve all been there. You look up from your dinner plate and your companion is chatting away on her phone, sending emails at the dinner table. It’s rude and it’s insulting, but it’s also a habit bordering on addiction. To avoid being this person, keep your phone on silent and keep it out of sight, or better yet, try leaving it in the car when you go out with your friends," says Capecelatro.
Set a Limit
"Set a limit on how many minutes (or hours) you want to be emailing, browsing Facebook, and exploring Instagram per day. By setting a limit you can enjoy technology without fear it will take over your life. Our recommendation is to limit Facebook use to 30 minutes in the morning and again in the evening (try not to post more than once a day), and 15 minutes of email four times a day. Being methodical about this will help accomplish your tasks without being overtaken by technology."
The best antidote to our over-technologized lives may be to connect with our under-technologized past, believes Capecelatro, who suggests you "use technology to plan to go camping with some of your best friends. Use your favorite trail map app to find where you would like to go. From there, use all of the human instincts you have to make fire, cook dinner, and build a tent. Think about picking a spot with a natural body of water nearby to go play in! Technology can facilitate and manage the trip, just make sure to put your phone down and enjoy nature and the company of your friends too."
How do you manage your tech usage?