YHATC005 – Less Human, More Unhealthy (Part 3)

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Today’s podcast is Part 3 of this series of podcasts titled “Less Human, More Healthy.”  If you’ve been following me thus far, I hope it’s been helpful for you.  If you haven’t heard the last two podcasts on the series, I encourage you to listen to them to get the fuller picture of what we’re talking about here.  Go to the iTunes store and look up “Your Health At The Crossroads” and you’ll see the other two podcasts.  You can also visit YourHealthAtTheCrossroads.com/the-podcast where you’ll find an archive of all of my previous podcasts including the others in this series.

Which reminds me.  If you are already active on iTunes, I want to invite you now to subscribe to Your Health At The Crossroads on iTunes.  You’ll be able to get my latest podcasts as they come.  Also, would you mind rating and reviewing this podcast?  When you do that, you help me by showing me if the podcast is helpful, and you can also show me how to make it more helpful.  You also help others notice the show, too.

Let’s move on into today’s topic.  We’ve already talked about how our relationships with our food and with the earth have changed drastically over time, in a way, in my opinion, that has us living less like humans should.  I’ve talked about how this “less human” lifestyle correlates with a more unhealthy state of being.  As I thought through this topic, I contemplated all of the things that I feel make us human.  Aside from eating real food and interacting with the earth, the next thing I thought about was our relationships with each other.

I believe that most will agree with me when I say that part of being a human includes interacting with other humans.  If this were not so, perhaps the first human would have been the only human.  If this were not so, there would be no need for the ability to communicate.  But of course, there are a lot of us humans around, and we have the ability to talk with each other and to understand each other and all of that.

You ever heard the saying, “no man is an island?”  That simply means that we all need human interaction.  We need to have other humans in our lives, whether it be family members, friends, coworkers or whatever.  We need other folks in our lives.  Matter of fact, it is scientifically proven that when we don’t have human interaction, we suffer in a variety of ways.

According to a study done by Development and Psychopathology, kids raised in environments like orphanages where they didn’t receive adequate levels of affection had different hormone profiles than kids raised in affectionate households, including higher levels of stress hormone.  The crazy thing about it is that these imbalanced hormone levels lingered for years, even after some kids were placed in more affectionate family homes.  This undoubtedly affects brain physiology.

But ohhh, how our relationships with each other have changed.  To go a step further, our relationships with each other have changed so much, even in just the past 10-15 years, that it doesn’t make sense.

♫Thanks to modern technology♫

 I still recall when cell phones and social media weren’t even existent.  I believe it was when I was a middle schooler back in the late 90s that my mom got the first cell phone for our family.  They’d actually been out before then, in the form of those huge consoles longer than your face, or the ones for cars that came in the bags and stuff.

And the dawn of social media was early to mid 2000s sometime, with Facebook in 2003 and MySpace around then as well.  I didn’t get onto Facebook until 2005, after a fellow church member urged me and a couple of others.  “Ay y’all need to get on that Facebook, man…that’s what’s up.”

Now, you can’t get us off of our cell phones, whether we’re eating at the dinner table, or we’re hurtling down the road in our 4000 lb vehicles.  And social media has revolutionized our communication in such a way that, in instances where we might have previously made an in-person visit or a phone call, we Facebook or Tweet.  When we go to concerts or other functions, we SnapChat or Instagram instead of watching the actual functions.  And the kids, man…they’ve grown up with cell phones and with social media, so if you try to take those away from them…oh boy, it’s the end of the world then, man.

“Now Shawn, this is Your Health At The Crossroads…what in the world do cell phones and social media have to do with health?”  Well, I’m glad you asked.  They have a LOT to do with health.  Let’s break it down a little bit more.

Distraction

Alright, first of all, cell phones have become so integrated into our society that we literally use them all of the time.  One of the terrible things about that is that we use them when we drive.

Keep in mind that the average vehicle weighs about 2 tons.  When you are operating a 2 ton piece of heavy machinery around a lot of other folks who are operating similar pieces of heavy machinery, there’s absolutely no doubt that you need to be paying total attention.  But around where I live, I can’t even count the number of people I see with a phone literally right in front of their faces as they’re driving at high speeds down the highway.  That is a health hazard and a straight-up life hazard.  Driving distracted with a cell phone has been repeatedly shown to be comparable to driving while intoxicated, and it can be deadly.

This is why I am so concerned about the young people today.  They have never known a time without cell phones, so my concern is that they will be much more distracted on the roads than even we are.  Think about that.

High Frequency Waves

Another way that cell phones are hazardous to health is through the waves that they emit.  Cell phones, tablets and so on emit high frequency waves as a by-product of how they operate.  Anything that transmits or receives a signal of some sort – anything that allows you to communicate wirelessly – is emitting high frequency waves, also known as radiation.  And at the microscopic level, when our cells are repeatedly exposed to such waves, they can be damaged.  Some studies (like this one) suggest that electronics can be implicated as the cause of some cancers.

Yet, we often unconsciously carry these devices of ours constantly in our pockets, and I’ve heard of kids putting their cell phones under their pillows.  I guess that’s to make sure that they don’t miss anything, even though I think there’s no business that a kid has to take care of through the night…I’m just saying.

Anyhow, this constant exposure to radio waves is just not good for our bodies.  It is potentially damaging to our DNA, and could cause huge health problems later on.

Mental Health Harm

The constant use of cell phones and social media can also harm our mental health.  Our highly technological society is creating groups of people who communicate humanly – by talking – much less, and what ends up happening is that there are a lot of people who fall through the cracks, as I put it.  They are people who become more isolated behind the wall created by technology, and if they ever begin to deal with issues, they don’t receive the personal connections that they need to deal with the issues effectively.  Why?  Because everybody is distracted by electronics.  Often, the most that we might do if somebody reaches out in help on Facebook is reply saying something like “hope u feel better” or “trouble don’t last always.”  This is in contrast to actually being with a person who is dealing with hurts and issues that are affecting them mentally.

See, it’s too easy for us to say stuff online or whatever to help people, when what people really need is our actual presences.  But because we’re so inundated with social media and electronic devices, a lot of folks are suffering undetected and not getting the help they need.  This is, I believe, a big reason that mental health issues are such a big problem in today’s world.

And lest I forget, another way that all of this technology stuff affects our mental health specifically is, it makes us too busy!  The promises made earlier on were that these smart phones were going to make our lives easier…HA.  What has happened instead is that these things have lured us into cramming our days with more and more stuff, and have made our lives so much more complicated.  We’re constantly doing stuff:  working, running businesses, getting to appointments, working out, getting kids to this place and that, getting food, etc….and we’re using apps to help us run all of this.

SIGH.

Don’t misunderstand.  I’m not a technology hater.  I can’t be…I’m an engineer, and I prep and distribute my podcasts through all kinds of technological means – laptops, PCs, Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, my website and so on.  But this isn’t how we’re supposed to live, guys.  This isn’t how humans were meant to be.  We’re not supposed to be so distracted from everything.  Distracted from the road or in other cases where such distraction is incredibly dangerous.  Distracted  from spending quality time with family at the dinner table.  Distracted from really being there for friends who are having a hard time mentally and emotionally.  Distracted from seeing your kids grow up because you’re always running somewhere and doing something.  And while some folks in other places are making bank off of all of our social media usage and all of our purchasing of phones, tablets, computers and so on, we’re suffering in all areas of health.

We as humans need real, authentic communication to survive and to thrive.  Remember the study on the kids.  We need real humans to be with us when we’re going through something…to talk to us and help us process…to pat us on the back, pray for us and hug us to assure us that everything is going to be alright.  There’s something cold about just receiving an encouragement on Facebook, you know?  It just doesn’t do it.

In some ways, mankind is one big organism.  We all need each other to survive.  But if we continue to use technology in such a way that it isolates us, distracts us and depresses us, the whole mankind organism suffers.  We need each other, man.  That’s why we get health problems when we don’t interact with each other the way we were made to.


Have a question you want answered on the Your Health At The Crossroads show?  Tweet your question to @ShawnB2BFitness, put it on the YHATC Facebook page, or call (478)216-8536 and leave a voicemail.  You can also send your question via e-mail  to shawn@yourhealthatthecrossroads.com.

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