Mindfulness, Technology, and Me
social life & social media
Charles Wang is one of the co-founders of Lumo BodyTech, the makers of the LUMOback posture sensor. When he’s not building new self-tracking tools, he’s taking some time to watch the world around him. Watch this great Ignite talk from Charles to hear about his observations and how they apply to his long-term posture tracking.
So recently I had a personal epiphany, and obviously I use technology a lot. I use a lot of different things. I track things and of course I wear Umo Back every day and by using our technology what does it actually do to me, and how does all this use impact me.
Here’s a picture of all the things that I use every single day and I get actually panicky when I don’t have one of these things with me and clearly that’s not healthy place to be. And recently on July 4 it really hit me. I was in the waiting area of a restaurant, and what I saw was groups of people who were just looking at their phones and not actually talking to people at all. Then I saw a mom with her daughter who literally was just brushing her off because she was so busy checking. It really made me think about what I did myself.
And an example for me was I was sitting at a stoplight, I had people honking at me and I look up and notice the light is green. I haven’t gone, and I’m looking at my phone and it’s illegal, and it just was not good. And the kicker for me was because I was at an Apple Store and I had to basically take my laptop in to get it serviced. I was going to be without it for several hours, and you could imagine how I might feel about that given what I just said.
And what I found though is what I actually give it up I felt free in a way where I felt I just didn’t have that responsibility anymore to have to have it. So I knew the tech was really killing me; it was controlling me. And so I learned that people who sit for long stretches, eight hours at a time or more it actually decreases your life. One in three people who visit Facebook actually feel envy, misery, and jealousy and not more connection.
When I stand and stoop like this when I’m using my devices or I’m typing away or whatever, that’s not good for me either. So I decided I needed to renegotiate sort of how I use technology. Because the reality is that when I look this up was we can’t really have more than 150 meaningful relationships anyway. And that 40% of my week is spent with five people that I’m closest to, so why bother you know dealing with the status update and Facebook and all this other stuff.
So I started thinking about, well how do I use technology to control, to be able to be more mindful versus what I do and actually having it control me, and then I started thinking about well, I built stuff and does this actually do what I hope it does.
So for those of you who don’t know Umo Back, it’s a posture sensor that you wear that actually helps you understand what your posture is and how you’re moving. It gives you real-time feedback in a form of a vibration. So if I’m slouching like this it will actually remind me to stand better or set better. There is also a cute little avatar that can mimic what you do in real time.
And so for me, my posture was never good. This is a picture of me taking about five years ago where you can see this common droopy look. And so through this have actually gotten a lot better. It’s not perfect, but what you can see from my data here I have been on a nice upward trend, and why is that? Well for me it really does boil down to literally that real-time feedback, so that vibration that I get all the time – well hopefully less now than I did before.
But that really really help me to get me back into being aware of what I’m doing, because I get so focused on my task that I actually don’t know what I’m doing with my body. But the interesting part of that is I don’t actually respond to the same to it every single day. You can see on Thursdays and Fridays I actually tend to struggle a lot more.
An interesting story on Thursday night I come home and I’m really really tired, and my wife says to me you know what you should really go for a run. I said there’s no way I’m going to do that I’m so tired. And then I get this data, and what I find is that on Thursdays I hardly ever do any exercise whatsoever.
So now I’ve learned that if my posture sucks at the end of the week and if I don’t exercise at the end of the week then that’s something where I need to do something about. The problem is I need to have the spoon fed to me. You know, I need information coming at me in multiple times in multiple ways in order for me to actually get it.
And then the other interesting part for me was I’m also using technology to solve a problem that I think has come from the use of technology. So really what I decided was that it’s really about being aware, and if technology is going to help me be more aware and be more mindful, that’s fine.
One of the things is that it’s a lonely road. We started experimenting in our office with community boards or leaderboards which has been really really helpful for us to know where do I stand in relation to other people.
And so we decided to roll it out today at the QS conference. You can see it at our booth, and if you would like to join that would be awesome. It’s leader board.umoback.com. I’m Charles Wang, thank you so much for listening.