When I hear/read/see something in threes, I take notice.
- I read an article about digital overload in The Seattle Times while waiting for my americano last Sunday.
- I listened to this NPR podcast on digital overload while walking my dog Tuesday.
- This article on technology and its effect on interaction while traveling appeared on Matador Goods Wednesday.
I love my laptop, I love my iPhone. I love email and Facebook and Twitter and my job, which requires me to be online and use many of those things. But some of the points made by these articles made me stop and think.
Can we honestly leave a trail and experience the world if we’re as connected traveling as we are when we’re at home? [Spencer Spellman]
The Matador article mentions using Twitter to ask for restaurant recommendations while traveling. The first comment made me laugh: “Is it really that hard to find a decent restaurant in Paris—in any neighborhood—just by opening your eyes and looking around?” Technology can help us find things, but it can also make us miss so much by taking our eyes off of the world around us.
Both research and intuition have told me that when my devices are present, I am less present…I can’t stand it when I’m not looking at my son or paying attention to him, I can tell when I’m not. And I can’t stand it, frankly, when other people aren’t invested in me, and my relationship with him and with my family has really made it very clear to me that if I’m constantly looking at my device, I’m not giving him what he deserves as a human being, and I think I’m also creating a human being in him that is going to give others less than they deserve. [Matt Richtel]
I’m not a parent, but that doesn’t make this statement any less relevant – a person is a person, be they two months or fifty years old. I’ve always rolled my eyes at people who sit with one another silently at restaurants while they text/email/tweet others. I fear becoming “that girl”.
Rats in a Cage
Everyone can find some way to relate to the idea of intermittent reinforcement, but none more so than an author querying agents or on submission:
If you have a rat in a cage, and the rat doesn’t know when the food dispenser is going to dispense a pellet, it feels compelled to check all the time. [Matt Richtel]
It’s hard for me to disconnect. Really, really hard. Even if I’m not expecting a particularly important email, if I can check, I want to. But even more, I do not want to be a rat in the cage. (Insert rock out hand here.) I don’t want to condition myself to slobber and salivate when my iPhone rings with its little message bell.
My Tech Detox Plan
At some point, like with food, a lengthy cleanse will be in order. Right now, I just can’t – I work online. However, a little bit goes a long way – add a salad, cut the dessert, that sort of thing.
Six days a week, I will work and email and tweet and Facebook and text. One day a week, starting this Sunday, I will not. What I will do instead:
- Write (by chisel and stone, or pencil and paper, or some antiquated method)
- Play music
- Listen to music
- Talk (with my voice)
- Ride the bus somewhere
- Drive somewhere
- Do something
- Do anything
- Do everything
- Give the Macbook a day of rest
I’m simultaneously dreading it and desperately craving it. Saturday night, I’ll check everything online on last time, then sign off until Monday morning.
iQuit. But just for a day. Want to give it a shot with me? Please let me know if you’re thinking about doing a tech detox. We’ll tweet about it.