We all know someone who is obsessed with technology…whether it’s the television, computer or the cell phone, they’re constantly clicking, checking, flicking and pecking at work and home and on the road. Take a look around your place, how many tv’s do you have? Is there one in the bedroom? Do you have a laptop close-by? Is your phone within arm’s reach? There’s no question that each of these things has done wonders for communication, entertainment, information and many other aspects of life. But for some, it’s an obsession that gets in the way of what’s happening right in front of them. (I understand the irony of talking about this with a blog that I’m probably going to promote through Facebook and Twitter, but bear with me. He without sin, stones, etc…)
As part of my line of work I need to be up on current events, whether trivial or life altering. And as such, while I’m at work I check up on what’s going on so I don’t “miss it.” When work is over, there’s less stress over keeping updated, but I’ll still check in on occassion to make sure I haven’t missed anything “big”. That way when I get back to work the next day I already know what’s going on, and I can build on it instead of reacting on the spot. The problem with this is what I talked about before…sometimes it gets in the way of what’s happening.
God bless my Sig-O…there’s been more than a few times that we’ve been relaxing and she’s tried to carry on a conversation while I mindlessly sneak a downwards glance at my cell phone to check on what the world is spinning about now. I will say I’ve gotten much better at leaving it alone; the last time I realized I was “obsessing” again I actually tossed/slid the phone across the table so I wouldn’t pick it up again. It’s like an open box of snacks that you’re just picking at for no reason…it’s there, so you’ll keep digging in until it’s empty. When you put it away, you forget it was ever in your hands to begin with.
Due to a power supply issue (more of a surplus delivered directly through my electrical outlets) I was without the services of a computer at home for the last couple of weeks, and just yesterday I got my laptop fixed up and running after 6 months of hibernation (shout out to George at Future Shop in Niagara Falls…he may be old and he may take all of my money on poker night, but damn if he can’t get a system humming again.) During that time, everything I’ve been doing online has either been at work, at the Sig-O’s, or through my phone. And I can honestly say I haven’t felt disconnected ONCE. If I’ve “needed” to check something, update something or just zombie browse, I’ve been able to. But during that time my phone has essentially carved an ass groove in my left hand. My right index finger also seems to have muscles 20-300% larger than the rest of my digits…almost ET-like in it’s rigidness. Even now as I type away, the phone is right behind me in case I “need” it.
It goes off when I get a call or text…it goes off when I get an e-mail. I get notifications on weather and sports, breaking news and Fruit Ninja challenges. It is ALWAYS reminding me of SOMETHING, and 99% of the time, it’s something I can take care of later on. But I don’t. It goes off, I check it. And I know I’m not alone. And to be honest, I’m never going to be completely disconnected through my day to day life. But I HAVE been able to disconnect before. If we’re heading up north or away on vacation, it’s no longer an information portal, it’s a camera or a music player. When we took off to the Dominican for a week, no service meant no outside world for a week, and it was fine. I was fine. I can stop whenever I want to.
That last sentence sounds a lot like an addict would say, doesn’t it? So I’ve decided to take some “drastic” action. Well, maybe not drastic, but I’m going to at least try something. I’m going to try to go a day without touching the cell phone. A regular work day. The reasoning behind it is pretty simple: I can get everything I need without it. I can jump on the internet to check something, e-mail, stories, whatever. The only thing I’ll use it for is the reason it exists: If the phone rings, I’ll pick it up. But everything else…Facebook, Twitter, scores, weather, info, pictures, playing games…24 hour blackout. It’s not a big thing, but I know it’s something that I can do. Because right now it’s just that box of crackers in my lap, lid open, taunting me to grab another handful.
I know when the day is over I’ll go back to it, and I’m sure it’ll end up sitting in my front pocket or the table/counter around me, but I think the fact that I’m making an effort to cut back a little is a good thing. And if you feel the same way about it, maybe pick a day and try the same thing yourself. It could be the phone, tv, the internet, something you think you might be using a little too much, try a 24 hour sabatical. Moderation is key to most things in life, especially when an obsession causes you to miss part of it. Good luck, and we’ll be in touch. (…checks Twitter…)