I’ve been in love with technology all my life.
For most of my professional career, I’ve held positions in the technical field. Beginning as a programmer and database administrator, I moved up the ranks to leadership positions where I defined corporate technology strategy. I am the poster child for a “techie”. But as I sit here drafting this blog post, I am writing it by hand into a paper notebook using a fountain pen. Somewhere in the last few years, my love affair with technology has waned. We needed time apart. Here’s why.
I’m old enough to remember Tandy TRS-80 (“Trash 80s”) and Commodore 64 computers. When I finished college, computers were just becoming mainstream. In a few years, the world moved from paper calendars and fax machines to electronic records and emails. Personal productivity advanced at lightning speed. We developed better technology to improve life even more. Well, so we thought. We have reached a point in the technological evolution where we don’t control the tools we’ve created. They control us.
We now live in a world where people are addicted to their smartphones. (Let that sink in a minute; we’ve created a world where phones are considered “smart”). Social media such as Facebook and Twitter dominate our personal relationships. But has anything improved in the last 10 years? Recent studies show that productivity in the workplace has been stagnant for some time while technology continues to advance. Our relationship with technology has grown toxic and demanding.
I started this blog because I wanted to improve my writing. For too many years my skills had faded in the error-ridden staccato sentences of email replies and texts. I was losing the ability to express myself in a clear and concise way, and I couldn’t focus on tasks lasting longer than a few minutes.
The more I explored the reasons behind these issues, the more I realized the culprit was technology. Like a demanding mistress, my phone was the first thing I reached for in the morning and at night was the last thing I touched before turning out the lights. I constantly stopped working to check email and social media. I quit wearing a watch because my phone had the time, and the phone was ALWAYS in my hand.
There’s no denying technology has its advantages. It has fueled countless advances in research and medicine. It has improved lives, monitored threats and averted accidents. But like everything else in our lives, moderation is the key. A little wine may be good for the heart, but too much is bad for the liver. Instead of letting technology improve my life, I had allowed it to control me.
Once I understood how bad my relationship with technology had gotten, I knew it was time for a change. So what did I do? I deactivated most of my social media accounts and turned off notifications on my phone. I only check emails at timed intervals during the day. At meals, I keep my phone in my pocket to fight the urge to check it. I wear a watch again. Technology and I needed to see other people.
I am in a stable relationship with my pen and paper now. Technology and I still see each other but on better terms. Our relationship is more collaborative and less codependent. I’m sure technology will help me type and edit this blog post when I am done writing it.
I’ve gone analog in a digital world. No one is more surprised than I am. But I’m not going back.