Disclaimer: I realize the inherent irony in this post. You’re no doubt reading it on an electronic device from which I’m proposing you detach yourself.
“Such a blessing, such a curse!” That how I see the internet. That’s how I see mobile phones. That’s how I see computers. They bring things to our lives every day that even the Jetsons didn’t predict. But all of those things aren’t good things.
The very same technology that allows us to connect with people hundreds and thousands of miles away, does so at a cost. The phone(s) in my pocket allow me to ‘stay in touch’ with lots of people, but in some ways doesn’t that mean our attention to any of those people is necessarily fragmented – in some way, diminished?
When walking from the parking lot (no, car doesn’t fly like George’s yet) to the movie theater, I noticed that at a moment when I would have instinctively and automatically reached for my wife’s hand, my hand was holding the mobile. I’d just checked a text message thread one more time to see if somebody had replied. For a moment, I was holding my phone rather than my wife’s hand. I dropped the phone in a pocket and reached for her hand and we walked into the theater. For a brief moment it felt like I was cheating! That part of me that doesn’t show up on the x-ray was trying to get my attention. While I was in no way being unfaithful, I was being unavailable to the person stand right beside me – the person who has been by my side for decades.
Countless other times, while having a face to face conversation with someone or sitting in a meeting, my mind has wandered to a recent text thread, email, or social media post. I was cheating on my meeting. I was too distracted by likes and retweets to be present for the people in the room with me.
At times this week I have felt particularly distracted and less present. For weeks I’ve been wondering about the idea of a ‘cyber-sabbath’ and this weekend I’m taking a break from internet connectivity. I’m not yet certain of the ‘rules’ I’ll adhere to, but I am certain that my attention needs more of a break from being online. For work and play I routinely take for granted the countless benefits of internet connectivity, but this weekend I’m pushing back against the costs of that connectivity.
My work requires the use of technology and I absolutely LOVE that I can connect with my brave, hopeful ‘quit-buddies’ instantly. I think that connection really matters and can really change us for good! Developing proper guidelines for my use of technology will allow me to be of greater service and therefore to know greater joy. I’m excited to see how this goes and I’ll try to be appropriately transparent regarding the evolution of my ‘internet-interrupt.’
Perhaps you’ll consider your current relationship with technology. It is a relationship and it might be an addiction. I’m going to try to stay more aware of this relationship in my life, so that I can continue to enjoy the blessings of instantly accessing and conveying information across the globe, without losing touch with the people right beside me.
Have a beaYOUtiful weekend!