Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Technology: Friend or Seductive Distraction?

I love technology and all that it makes possible in terms or personal and professional information, communication and connection……to a point. Let me explain. Utilizing technology – smart phone, desk-top, laptop and Ipad provide many benefits in both work and play arenas throughout the day and evening. We’re conditioned to continually check for updates from friends, colleagues and business related sites and multi-task while walking down the street, often putting our own and others’ lives at risk. In spite of multiple media safety warnings, many even do this while driving. We live in an interconnected online world providing numerous benefits and costs. Being connected 24/7 is our typical way of being in the world.  We both expect and demand instant connection and response in all areas of our lives, including our “vacations” from work. Although I am fully aware of the benefits, I often question the costs of this type of connection – personally, professionally, culturally and globally.

 Several years ago, feeling depleted from living a “24/7 Connected Lifestyle,” I chose to take a break via a two and a half week trekking adventure in Peru and Bolivia. For the first time in over 10 years, I lacked regular access to technology. It was an amazing and empowering experience and, to be perfectly honest, sometimes extremely challenging to be disconnected from technology. I was surprised at how addictive it was to be 24/7 wired and then go “cold turkey.” After a tense few days off-line, I found that I loved being fully present to each day and each moment, sans technology related distractions. I vowed to continue this type of presence when I returned from my adventure and for several years I managed to retain my “transformed” relationship with technology. Over time, I experienced what I refer to as “technology creep.” Little by little, the “24/7 Connected Lifestyle” slowly started moving back into my manner of moving through the world. This time, though, it didn’t feel natural or normal; it felt less friendly and increasingly more seductively distracting.

Is it possible to be simultaneously connected from a positive perspective while not being seductively distracted into a “24/7 Connected Lifestyle?” The optimal answer that I came up with is: “yes and it’s a moving target.” The solution to this ever present seduction will be distinct for each of us – a uniquely evolving balance. My current approach is to create a weekly technology free zone day. It’s amazing how restorative these days can be; twenty-four hours in a technology free zone can essentially provide the benefits of a mini-vacation.  It also amuses me how immensely challenging it can be on some of these days to follow through on my intention – the seduction of technology is powerful. I have also chosen to single-task with regard to technology. When I walk, my intention is to simply walk, when I drive I focus exclusively on the driving and when I talk with someone on the phone, I focus on the conversation. I have found that at times it can be quite challenging to single-task in this manner.

Is the “24/7 Connected Lifestyle” our friend or a not so friendly seductive distraction? For me, the answer is “Yes” to both. The most relevant question that I live with now is around how to benefit from the gifts of technology and 24/7 connection without being seduced into the powerful inherent costs.

What about you?


1 comment:

  1. I'm going to make a habit of one day without technology. Wish me luck! Thank-you Janet!