Technology is good. There has been a lot of innovation that has come through technological advances, and innovative people have taken technology forward exponentially in the past century. Our lives today have been emailed, forwarded, broadcast, uploaded, tweeted, facebooked, instagramed, stumbled upon, downloaded, translated, amplified, demonized, antagonized, and pasteurized. We spend so much time connected to our computers and smartphones that it’s hard to imagine going an hour, let alone a day or week, without them.
Let me say it again. Technology is good. There is nothing wrong with sharing your life with your thousands of Facebook friends, or posting memes that express your inner satirical thoughts. You can post Instagram photos of every Starbucks drink you every buy if you want. As we become more and more connected with the world in this digital age, I would argue that we are becoming more and more disconnected.
Real life is happening all around us, and it doesn’t fit into 140 characters. Have you ever tried disconnecting from your smartphone and computer for a day? You might find that there are real life human interactions that you’ve been neglecting, or missing altogether right in front of you.
I started diving more into designing websites over the past few months, and I in turn became like a zombie to my family. The only time I wasn’t working on my computer at home was when I was cooking or eating dinner. I was sometimes even working on my computer while cooking dinner. There is nothing wrong with my ambition to get those projects done, but my computer was becoming my master instead of a tool for me to use and it was becoming evident in my relationship with my family.
Yesterday I decided to leave my laptop at work. Amazingly enough, I didn’t seem to get as frustrated with my youngest son. Maybe he was behaving better than he usually does, but I think it had more to do with my attention being freed from the glow of my laptop. I spent some time just sitting with my wife and relaxing as the kids watched a movie after dinner. If I had taken my computer home I would have probably found myself in the same situation as before, ignoring my family and stressed out about any little thing.
Sometimes we are forced to disconnect for a time. For example, my mom’s internet was not working correctly yesterday. I would not consider her to be a victim of the disconnected epidemic, but to be without that connection for a day was tough for even her. I like what John Saddington wrote on 8bit.io this past friday:
…there’s something special that happens IRL when technology is no longer master but rather a slave to the man; the result is technology used properly and well. We, then, can control the experience and go deeper, not wider. Decisions, not choices.Analog
I want to encourage you to take a step back today and evaluate your connection to technology. Are you bound like a prisoner to your smartphone? Do you spend more time posting about what your kids do rather than being involved in what they are doing? If you look at your status updates from the past month, so a lot of them look the same? Are you the master over the tools you use, or are you enslaved to them? To put it another way, what are you worshiping today?