Before purchasing a smartphone for the very first time, a friend uttered words of wisdom about this type of phone, “It will change the way you shit!” How often do people go number two anymore without taking their phones out? It’s an unspoken, but common, habit. Come on, you do it. Don’t lie.
Lately, I have been really thinking about technology and its’ impact on society. I have done presentations on how adults need to step up and be the role models for kids, and stop with the nonsense of being zombies on their mobile devices. Being a technology coach, some at first found it bizarre that I had this outlook on technology – that I out of all people was advising to give it a rest! Put it down! However, what immediately followed my advice, were many people who thanked me for bringing up the issue of finding a technology balance in their lives.
Let me state, that I am a true believer of many benefits of technology in our world – using technology to help us learn more, be more efficient with our time, organize our documents, visualize and understand data more effectively, connecting with others that are miles away, and I could go on and on… Yes, there are many amazing things technology makes possible for us. I sing praise to the choir of techies out there, and I consider myself one. I. Love. Technology.
However, there are downsides in everything, and technology is no anomaly. A large focus at my job right now is work life balance. I bring to the table, the focus of technology balance. As teachers, we specifically impact many children for a large chunk of their lives. If we are walking around with our faces in our devices, if we are saying, “hold on, I have to finish this email,” what are we really showing the children? We’re showing them that technology is more important than seeing the environment and people that surround us. Technology has priority over people speaking to us in person, “Email first! You later!” With this lifestyle and this direct message to children, how can we expect them to think any differently?
This video does not surprise me, it actually physically pains me. I know, dramatic much? But, it does. Where are children’s imaginations going? How has the meaning of “fun”, “adventure,” and “memorable moments” shifted for this generation? And at what value has it changed? People, this is scary!
Let me be clear, this technology craze these days is not just scary for kids. It’s scary how technology is impacting adults. The meaning of our relationships and how we keep them has been altered with social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc, etc) and instant messaging (through the various forms around), take a moment and think about how different our lives have become because of this type of technology. How much do you post about your life for your social network to see? How much do you see a big picture into people’s lives within your social network (or “phone world” as Aziz Ansari likes to say) that you mostly do not even ever see? Ten years ago, would you have shared this much with this many people? Would you have known this much about people you rarely see? How much more does having social media make you feel the need to share, the need to like and comment? Would you really share a whole photo album from your trip to Barcelona with someone you worked with twelve years ago? Technology has really changed our need to share and our need to feed off of others’ lives.
There is so much to delve into on this topic, and hey, I am no rockstar – I am addicted to my phone like any other person out there. But, there are a few things that had me stop and rethink what I’m doing…
- Divorce – I got a divorce and I realized how much I was sharing with the online world before the divorce. I realized I was trying to convince my phone world that I was happy and that life was grand – I was cropping my life, choosing what I wanted to include in social media updates and what kind of life I wanted to paint. I was trying to convince myself that I was living this life I was illustrating online, when in reality I was not even close to as happy as the life I showed everyone. After the divorce, I post much less. Why do I need to share everything? I no longer feel like I need to prove my happiness to my phone world – the only person I need to prove it to is myself.
- Israel – I went on Birthright and planned ahead of time to have a data plan to ensure I would not lose my social media world, which I was addicted to. The first night in Israel, I discovered the data plan I ordered did not process. I was furious! I made a big fuss with the phone company and they promised they would fix it in the next couple days. The next couple days passed, and nothing. The third day came to an end and I realized a new feeling – I felt free. It was freeing to not feel like I had to reply to people’s emails and texts quickly, they could wait! It was freeing to not know what was going on throughout the day with my social media world. I loved that I did not know what day it was, what time it was, or what the weather would be. People at home were doing things that I would have to wait to hear about rather than instantly know, the weather would be – who knows the next day, and I had the feeling that no one was waiting to hear from me.
- This Article – My husband (yea, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, long story short – I met a great fella in Israel [see above] who became the Jacob to my Rachel, started from a conversation all made possible by our boredom one night being without a data plan) …back to what I was going to say…My husband shared this article that touches upon people waking up and instantly connecting with their phone world rather than each other. For me, it was an eye opener. My reaction was, “Shit! That’s us!” We did something crazy the next day….drum roll….we went out and bought alarm clocks! We now wake up, connect with each other, rather than instantly being in email, on Facebook, answering texts.
My husband and I talk all the time about the impact of having the world in your hand. We see families out to dinner with the kids not looking at their parents, but at their technology, not hearing their family, but listening to their mobile devices with their headphones on. Is there even a point to going out to dinner if this is what it looks like? Where is the bonding? Where’s the connecting. I would love people to put the technology away, disconnect with it – spend more time reconnecting to your life in front you. Get unplugged, disconnect to reconnect, and please stop participating in this much too common scene:
The world is full of beautiful people, stop and look at them. Save conversations for when you see people in person if you can, or use your actual voice to communicate on a phone or video conference (there are conversations outside the text world, outside the social media world…have them).
Like I said earlier, I still love technology. I still love the interactions that are made possible because of technology, the long distance friendships/relationships that are easier to maintain, the inspiration and knowledge that comes from the Internet world, and frankly, I’m still a phone addict. But, I know that this is not the ideal way to be, that I need to pay attention to my physical life more and put the phone down. Have a good technology balance. I’m working on it. I’m hiding those social media apps so they are not the first screen I see when I wake my phone up, leaving the phone outside my bedroom at night, turning my phone off when I don’t need it, not taking it out when I’m eating with others….baby steps. Technology balance.