Technology makes me crazy. This is a realization that came to me over the last few weeks. I think to some degree technology makes us all crazy. We’ve gone from a culture of sit down dinners with polite conversation to constant conversations through text messages and social media.
If I’m being honest about my own habits, there is something to be said about using the Internet as your stand in roommate and best friend. Time ticks away without any productive work being done the moment I start checking e-mail. Yet, as much as I would like to say I’m just going to shut my computer off, most of the work I do relies on the resources of the internet and the ability to e-mail.
I remember back in the day having a computer was both a novelty and a privilege. Not everyone could afford a computer and when Internet came around, it was limited to dial up. If you were lucky like I was and had a techie parent or two, you might have a separate phone line just for internet, but most people had to use their regular phone line. If they were on the Internet, it meant that they couldn’t receive or make phone calls.
I always thought myself pretty balanced when it came to media and technology. Growing up, my mom regulated when and how much TV we could watch and frankly, I don’t think my sisters and I were much into TV anyway. Even when I went off to college, I didn’t have much interest in watching television. There were a lot better things to do than watch TV.
Now, that I live in a cold clime and work long tiring hours, when I get home, Hulu has my TV shows queued up and waiting for me. I don’t even need a television. And even with the likes of Hulu and Netflix, people think it’s amazing that I don’t own a television.
So, I make some dinner and eat dinner at my desk while watching a show. If I’m feeling guilty, I might even try to do some work while eating dinner and watching said show. Can you say (or scream) inefficiency?? Hours later I’ll find that I’m tired and it’s time for bed and I haven’t done a single thing on my to do list.
Did I mention to you how effective online television is at helping you procrastinate and avoid things you really should be doing in life? I mean, come on, in a race between do boring things like study or write e-mails to various powers that be and things like eat and watch made up stories about the drama in other people’s fake lives, what would you do? It’s much easier to watch the fake drama and feel better about your life (albeit your rather unproductive one while you’re watching television shows) than to sit down with the silence around you and actually do some work.
I remember I used to really enjoy the peace and quiet when studying back in high school. It felt meditative and for a while the sensation of time was suspended. At work, productiveness is punctuated by phone calls and text messages. Inefficiency is rampant. Despite all our technological advances, the actual work sometimes takes longer. Not because the actual work takes longer, but because we have far more interruptions and distractions. Of course many will argue that interruptions have long been a part of medicine since the beeper has been around for far longer than most of the technology I’m discussing here.
We’re inefficient and distracted. Now, throw in the fact that we work longer hours, we’re more mobile and spread out, and technology advancements seem to happen in the blink of an eye. Well, we need to connect! And the Internet and electronic technology industry have answers for that, too. We can talk while we drive (a practice that is VERY DANGEROUS), video chat, share photos instantly, text message, tweet, and facebook. I’m sure there are a million other ways to connect that I’m missing. Oh, right, blogging. Yeah. I realize that I’m blogging right now and I won’t even try to defend myself.
Even when we do meet people face to face, it is rare to just focus on being with that person or people. We’re too busy checking our phones for text message or getting called. Sometimes we’re tweeting or instagramming (oh yeah, there is that one, too). Even with a good old fashioned camera, I find myself distracted, so with all these options, I find myself wanting to pull my hair out.
I have a friend who texts the entire time she’s at the gym. It drives me batty and it makes me less likely to want to go to the gym with her. While, I, too, tend to multitask, I do my best to be present when I’m at the gym or driving or spending time with friends or family. My terrible multitasking habits tend to crop up more when I’m alone and should be doing work.
So, what does this all mean? We’re dumber, fatter, more stressed, less productive, and inherently less connected. You might not like that I said it like that, but that is the plain truth.
Why the soapboxy, ranting like post? Well, because I’m working on being less distracted and stressed out by technology. In fact, I wrote this entire post without checking my phone or doing something else online. Aren’t you all proud of me? Okay, maybe not. I’m still proud of myself though.