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Tune In Without Tuning Out: Digital Media Speaker Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Digital and Social Media | September 24, 2013

Tune In Without Tuning Out: Digital Media Speaker Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Ever since human beings first discovered how to craft rudimentary tools, digital media speaker Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says our minds and bodies have adapted to use them better. This applies to everything from an axe carved out of stone manufactured thousands of years ago, to the smartphones and computers we use today. In his keynote at the Microsoft Redmond Campus, The Distraction Addiction author says that our enhanced ability to use tools is coupled with an increased reliance on those tools. A prime example is how few phone numbers many of us commit to memory now that we have smartphones that store them for us. That, and many of us recall phone numbers based on the pattern by which we punch the digits into our phones. "We used to let our fingers do the walking," he says, "now, we can let them do the remembering."

As he explains, the tools we use often come to feel as though they are an extension of ourselves. This can be a very positive thing; it allows us to remember more, to communicate across long distances, to learn more. However, the more tools we develop and use regularly, and the more reliant we become on them, the more distracting they can be to our lives. We live in a constant state of multitasking: We're scanning the Web while checking our smartphone and reading our email in between (often while we hold our breath, Pang has found). While these tools are helpful to our lives, they are also distracting us from being as productive as we could be, as socially aware as we could be, and as focused as we could be. "These chronic distractions [also]," Pang says, "erode your sense of having control over your life."

So how do we tune in without tuning out completely? In the October edition of Elle Magazine, Pang suggests that we establish boundaries with our devices. "These devices are a bit like evil, self-centered, four-year-olds," he explains. "They want your attention all the time. When they want you to look at something, they want you to look at it right now. They have no sense of social boundaries." Your phone, computer, email account, etc., will continuously bombard you with pings, tweets, and alerts—you have to establish limits as to when you access them. You can do this by either developing rules for yourself about when you access something and for how long, or, through the use of new programs that can help set those boundaries for you. "Recognize first of all, that your own time and attention are incredibly valuable," Pang explains. "And second, that a lot of those people who want your attention would be better served by waiting a little while."

In his keynotes, Pang shows us how to use technologies—including social media—to become more mindful, focused, and creative at work and in life. To book Alex Soojung-Kim Pang as a speaker, contact The Lavin Agency.
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