Technology. It makes our lives better in so many ways. And it causes us stress in so many others. Technology lets us communicate in ways we never dreamed of: email, instant messaging, video chat, blogs and countless social media sites. It makes us always reachable and sets up the expectation that we should always be available. There are articles and stories and studies about the downsides of constantly being electronically connected. And there are articles and stories about how technology brings us together.
What role does technology play in your life? Do you feel at its mercy most of the time or like you should be doing more all of the time? Does it add pleasure and fun to your life? Does it keep you connected with those who are important to you?
The Daily Worth article, “Why Unplugging From Technology Can Help Us Enjoy the Moment” points out how smart phones, the internet and social media can create stress, cause depression, dull our memories and affect our cognitive functions as well as several other unexpected and unanticipated outcomes. They suggest turning off your phone sometimes to give yourself a break, not taking social media breaks when you need to be focused and grabbing an old fashioned pen and paper to help improve our memories.
Then there is the story of Joshua Seftel and his mother, Pat. Joshua is a filmmaker and after his father died, Joshua sent his mother an iPad so he could better stay in touch with her. After their first few video chats (and some technological learning on his mother’s part), Joshua began recording their chats and started broadcasting them in a web series on YouTube called, “My Mom on Movies”. This funny, sweet and poignant series uses technology to not only keep in touch, but to deepen a relationship.
There is a balance to be struck between our using technology and technology using us. We can choose to turn off our computer, have a “no phones at the dinner table” policy or commit to a certain amount of time per week or day when we completely disconnect from electronics. We can also choose to use social media to reconnect with someone we have been out of touch with, video chat with relatives or friends you only get to see once a year or find inspiration in blogs and online articles.
While technological advances have made it easier to communicate, they don’t always make it easier to connect. And the ultimate goal of communication is to connect. Sometimes communication is just a simple relay of information. But more often than not, it is about relating to another human being-a desire and a need we all have.
Be proactive! You choose the role you want technology to play in regards to connection in your life. How do you want to create connection in this age of communication overload? What step will you take this week towards your goal?