News & Press

Community Wellness: Constantly connected has considerable consequences

Community Wellness: Constantly connected has considerable consequences

October 16, 2015

By Robert Lathers

Posted Oct. 16, 2015 at 11:30 PM

We are living in an era of constant connectedness. It seems that everyone is texting, and not only once in a while, but texting all the time; when we are driving or riding, during school or at work, when we are meeting with other people, when we are at the movies, or during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There seems to be no break from these devices except when we go to sleep, and even then the phone is nearby. We do not seem to feel safe without it. We are now almost never alone, and feel a panicked loneliness if we are not constantly connected. Increased accidents, lack of listening and talking through problems, and increasing feelings of loneliness from reduced human relationship experiences are just some of the potential consequences.

My brother-in-law recently shared with me that he never talks on his phone or texts while he drives. In fact, he leaves his phone face down on his car’s console with a picture of his children taped to the back of the phone. He told me that it reminds him of not only what is truly important but also the potential consequences of distracted driving: the potential death of himself or of someone else’s children. It is a gentle lesson. He also does not listen to the radio. He just allows himself to be alone and take a break from the stress of the day while he quietly drives.

It is a very beneficial to our overall health and well being to spend time unplugged and unconnected every day; practicing quiet; praying or meditating; walking; reading; or just sitting alone being in the moment with no demands on ourselves or others. Stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness are reduced when we practice these behaviors. This constant connection, which we have been seduced into believing is vital to life, serves simply to interfere with our ability to pay attention and be connected to all that really matters and brings real connections to our lives.

Robert Lathers, LMSW, is the CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health, soon to be “The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness. His email address is He welcomes your comments and questions.