Overstimulation: The Biggest Problem To Face In The 21st Century

Overstimulation: The Biggest Problem To Face In The 21st Century

In a world where we're encouraged to absorb as much as possible, we've lost the ability to unplug and unwind.

We have become accustomed to instant gratification — and I do mean instant. A Google search can wield over 620,000 results in 2.5 seconds, while you can access millions of videos on Youtube at the tap of your fingertip. You can click that purplish-pink icon on your Smartphone that resembles an old Polaroid camera and you're exposed to over 700 million user profiles.

It’s all there for us to soak up like sponges — and we don’t just suck it up, we bask in the tub of stimulation until we’re as pruned as a dried apricot.

I check my Instagram as soon as I wake up. I listen to Youtube videos on my way to work. I watch Family Guy on Netflix before I go to sleep. Every single day is filled with harsh, blue-light images, or Aden-filtered pictures of what my 800+ acquaintances had for dinner that day.

Our lives are comprised of light, sound, and text that never ends.

It’s quite… unnatural.

I’m not a social media or technology basher, so please don’t take it that way; but, I have noticed their effects on society. I find myself more restless than I've ever been before, and I was quite the hyperactive child. My mind and body never seem to settle, as if there’s always a need for more and more stimulation. I can’t help but to think it's the same for other people.

In fact, I know it is. Almost a year ago, I was at the Newark airport on my way to Puerto Rico. I noticed that every single person was glued to their phone screen or the television screens, even when they had friends and family to talk to sitting right next to them. When I went to eat at one of the airport restaurants, there were tablets stationed at every seat with games and other applications. We actually had to order our food using the tablets.

I used to work part-time at a restaurant and I had the pleasure of serving a good-looking older couple, maybe in their late-forties. They had all of five minutes of conversation before the gentlemen proceeded to pull out his phone and check whatever notifications he received, while the lady stared at the television screen behind his head.

Is human interaction becoming too boring these days?

Every doctor's office comes handy with magazines and newspapers, yet we’d rather catch up on celebrity gossip and political news on our 4.7in display screens.

I mean, how can we resist when there’s moving pictures and bright, fuzzy lights jumping out at us at every turn? Words on a page just can’t compare.

And I find that a problem.

As we soak in more and more of our pixelated addictions, we become desensitized, itching for something more grand and interesting. Speaking for the young people of my generation, we can waste over an hour on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter… And be bored the whole time we’re doing it. I’ve seen people click out of Instagram, look at their surroundings for ten seconds, then click back onto the app they just closed out of.

I’ve done it myself. In today’s fast-paced and sensory-overloaded world, there’s no room for quiet time or intervals of nothingness. The idea of nothingness has become innately boring. We have to feast on constant motion and action, leaving us feeling fidgety or spiritless if we’re not doing something at all times. We have slipped into a cycle of self-deprecating madness, hopelessly trying to motivate and berate ourselves into being more productive and reaching our goals, only to spend a significant portion of our time on our apps trying to cure our boredom and aimlessness, which then leads to us beating ourselves up about wasting time on our apps.

We see images of people hiking, clubbing, or going on business meetings (from my personal experience, I can vouch that many of those 'business meetings' people like to post aren’t actual business meetings, but I digress) and that plants the seed for our restlessness to grow.

We see, hear, and feel too much, leaving us with a need to go, go, go (or compete, compete, compete). What we see and hear online poisons us into thinking that life itself should always be as sensational as the Youtube videos, Netflix shows, and professional-looking Instagram photos we see.

Here’s an excerpt from Psychology Today:

According to a recent study by UK disability charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.

We are so plugged in that we misconstrue what we see online as actual reality. And the crazy thing is, even though many of us feel negative after using social media, we just. Can’t. Stop.

We are so used to receiving that form of stimulation that life seems foreign and empty without it. The kicker is that it’s not. Life continues to go on whether or not we check status updates or watch a TV show. Our feelings of boredom are mental blocks we place on ourselves, triggered by weeks, months, and years of colorful pictures being thrown into our face. Overstimulation is what causes most of our day-to-day activities to feel underwhelming and uninteresting. We crave to be interested so much that we inhibit ourselves from doing things that are actually interesting.

Social media and other online sights are like the bad kind of sugar — it tastes good, but doesn’t fill you up. Checking posts are fulfilling for all of ten minutes, but then you’re left with feelings of dissatisfaction and boredom.

Unplug and unwind. Read a book, start that exercise plan you’ve been wanting to for a while, or get started on that business proposal. The less stimulated you are, the more productive and fulfilled you’ll be. Our brains are the OG of televisions and social media — it’s all the entertainment we ever need.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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A Letter To My Dancers

Everything your dance teacher wants you to know.

When anyone (especially a child) chooses to invest their time, talent, and passion into dancing, it's nothing to take lightly. These kids spend more time with me at the studio than they do at home with their parents. Before long, they're my "kids," too. When I only have an hour to lead a warm-up, teach choreography, and rehearse a number, there isn't much time to express the thoughts and feelings I'd necessarily like to. Being a dance teacher is the most spectacular and rewarding job - and I want my students to know that. Between the great rehearsals and the frustrating ones, the competitions and recitals, and the endless hours we spend together each week, there are just a few reminders I need to share with them.

Dear Dancers,

Please love yourself and love what you do with every ounce of your being. Do it with so much passion that your heart wants to burst. Dance is the most special thing; it's something we are privileged and lucky to have, so don't take it for granted.

Please believe in yourself. You are worthy. You are talented. You are strong and capable of everything you set your mind to. Strive to be the best version of yourself every day, not the reflection of the girl next to you. Dance like you. Move like you. Experiment and find what makes you, you. Be an individual. Trust me when I say I don't want 20 carbon-copied robots. I want you.

Trust that I have your best interest in mind. Sometimes my choices and decisions won't make sense, you might be confused, hurt or frustrated, but keep the faith that I'm on your side. I don't want to see you fail, and I'll do everything in my power to help you find the success you're looking for.

I want you to succeed, but for me to do that, you need to tell me what you need. Do you need the counts again? Do you need me to review the transition to floor one more time? If you understand, tell me. If you don't, tell me that, too. Be vocal, be present, be smart, and be prepared. Practice on the sides. Pay attention to the small details. Ask questions. Don't be late, and definitely don't forget your choreography. Take responsibility for your responsibilities and lead by example. Do you have any remote idea how many children look up to you? Who want to be just like you someday? Dance just like you? Kids watch, listen, and copy. Make sure the behaviors you're teaching them are behaviors you're proud of.

Make memories with your dance family while you still can. Cherish every 9 a.m. Saturday morning rehearsal, every competition you attend, every fundraising event, and every team sleepover. It'll be gone so fast. You're going to miss these days. Please, enjoy them.

Don't compare yourself to other dancers. You are you, and nobody can do "you" better than yourself. Don't wish away your abilities by secretly wishing you had Suzie's feet, Betsy's port de bras, or Charlie's center. The only thing you need to worry about is being a better version of yourself than you were the day before. You are your only competition, so don't be too hard on yourself. Be kind to your mind and body. You work day in and day out to perfect your craft and artistry. You work to mold and create yourself. You'll be rewarded with time if you keep fighting and don't give up. Usually when you want to throw in the towel, it's after you don't get the part you wanted or you don't make the team you hoped to. What you need to understand is the answer isn't "No," the answer is "Not yet." You know you're trying and working hard, and those efforts don't go unnoticed -- even if it seems they are.

Please, remember that it's not going to always be fair. You're going to be let down, and you're going to feel disappointed from time to time. You're not always going to win the trophy. You're not always going to get the featured solo part, and not everyone can be the front row and center dancer. This doesn't mean you're "bad" and this doesn't mean you're not "meant" to dance either.

Quite frankly, it's just how it works, you guys. It doesn't mean I don't like you, and it doesn't mean the dancer who does have the solo is my favorite. The dancer just might be more talented. Yeah, I said it. They might have better lines, straighter knees, or stronger stage presence, and that is entirely okay. You're going to run into this for the rest of your adult life. Someone is going to be smarter, more qualified, more desirable for a particular job or position. So instead of despising and resenting these dancers (and especially me), try to learn from them instead. You'll learn more from each other than you could imagine. But if you take away one thing from this, know that you are still worthy of my best training, my best analogies, my best choreography -- whether you are featured, in the third row, or even off-stage for the turn section.

As your teacher, it's my job to teach. Learning (and learning correctly) requires close attention to detail, incredible focus, and a plethora of corrections on my part. Yes, I will go out of my way to critique you, and I will continually tell you what needs fixing until it's fixed. I might have to tell you over and over and over again. And you know, I might even get frustrated with you once in awhile because of it, but here's what you need to understand: This doesn't make me mean or a bad teacher. This doesn't mean I hate you. What it does mean is that I see potential in you and I want to help. I just have to ask, do you see what I see in you? Do you see the talent and abilities I see?

Corrections are good. Success is an incredibly long and never ending process that takes time, but the corrections I give you are helping you get one step closer. So next time you catch yourself getting upset about receiving the same critique week after week or you want to complain about how mean I am, please remember that my intent is not malicious. I'm doing my job.

It's also my job to instill perseverance, dedication, discipline, trust, humility, confidence, creativity, bravery, and strong work ethic into you. I want to push your limits. Test you. Challenge you. I want to mold you into the person you want to be. Even though you probably don't even know who that person is, I do.

There are so many possibilities, opportunities, and challenges that are out there once you enter the world of adulthood. The dance world is so much bigger than your studio, competition routines, and conventions. At the end of the day, no one remembers or cares (especially your future employers) if you won a quadruple diamond platinum plus on your lyrical solo in 2016. They don't care about your first place overall at Showbiz. They don't care if you're Teen Miss Winner of the World. They don't care. What people do care about is your character, your heart, and how you made them feel.

Dancers, I will always support you. Whether you want to pursue a professional dance career in Los Angeles or New York City, in a company overseas, on your college dance team, I will support you. Whether you want to teach dance or choreograph locally in town, I will support you. Whether you don't want to dance at all and maybe be an engineer or a cosmetologist, I will support you. I will always fuel your dreams, goals, and desires, no matter where they'll take you.

I love you and I'm proud of you.


Your Dance Teacher

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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