During a recent DAN debate that I participated in, we had to put forward our arguments for the affirmative for Technology aiding Mindfulness. It’s easy to think on the surface that all of us are using our phones to escape the day to day around us. The way in which we use devices can have positive as well as negative effects.
No greater example of this is the mobile phone. Once a way to communicate on the move, they are now powerful pieces of computing hardware that rival most desktop machines for processing power. Given the breadth of applications these devices demand our attention, so much so that communication via voice and message have taken a back seat to browsing, social media and consuming content. Locked away in our own little worlds, droves of us sit on trains and at home liking pictures, following celebrities and watching YouTube videos of cats doing cute things. Or so it seems on the surface. But what I think (and what our team debated) was that these devices also allow us to be meaningful as they draw us into the present. Fundamentally we’re all social animals and require communication with friends and family for us to feel connected and have a sense of place in the world we live in.
The fact that I can Skype my Mum and have her being a part of my daughter’s life while she lives at the other end of the world is proof of this, and one such way that technology helps me to be meaningful and present. When it comes to our daily commute (be honest now) who wants to talk to the stranger next to you on the train? Before I could catch up with my friends on Facebook I was never going to talk to them anyways and would have happily read a book or a newspaper to focus my attention elsewhere. The bonus now is that through my mobile phone I get to also listen to my favourite podcasts during that 35 minute commute to work.
As I’ve laid it out to you here in word form, it all seems quite logical and rational. And you might think ‘Hey, Ollie makes some good points’. The factor that I’ve not elaborated on, is the point that I had to make these arguments while also rebutting the previous debaters negatives in front of my peers. And I can promise you, that faced with a bunch of your co-workers staring and waiting for your rebuttal is a very nerving experience. But deliver I did and while I stood there thinking why on earth I had signed up to this uncomfortable experience in the first place I quickly got into it and my 5 minutes seemed to fly by. Dissecting pervious points and putting my points for the affirmative forward.
At the end of it I walked away thinking ‘Glad this is over’ and also feeling pleased I’d remembered my points and getting some reaction from the crowd. All in all it was a great experience that took me out of my comfort zone and even left me wanting to do it again.
So if you are thinking of signing up for the next DAN debate, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that I learnt from my experience to help you along.
Be prepared. Think about your argument and what key points you want to get across.
Make those points so detailed that they take a long time to get across. Too much detail switches the crowd off.
Prepare as a team and have a consistent story. Flow is the key here, having a start, middle and end divided between each member allows for everyone to focus on their piece.
Leave catching up before the debate until the last minute because you’re too busy with your day to day job. Thinking that it will all come together at the end because you’re really good at winging it really comes across when you all deliver the argument.
Take your time to deliver each point. Pausing for effect allows the crowd to take in what you’re saying while allowing you to stay calm and in control.
Try to rush and get it over and done with as soon as possible. Being nervous is only natural and fight or flight will kick in at this point, but being mindful of this (see what I did there?) will allow you to relax and maybe even enjoy the process.
So after all this did we win or lose? Well the public spoke and we the affirmative won the argument that technology and mindfulness do co-exist in a positive way. And while I’m feeling very pleased with this outcome, the whole experience win or lose was definitely worth the effort.