Friday, March 22, 2013

Technology Frenzied World

"Hello, my name is Jennie and I'm a technology-holic!" 

So, it's official, I am addicted to the internet, to my cell phone, to Facebook and to tracking every single thing I am doing. It's as if I think it'll all be immortalized if I blog it or check in or add it to my status. I've fallen into that place where if my phone isn't next to me, I'm reaching for it or searching for it. Horrible. 

So, for me - a thinking individual - I of course have to analyze why, how, what makes me addicted. I am also using technology - this blog - to do so. Pathetic. Oh well,  it's the norm right now. Everyone, everywhere has a phone in their purse, on their hip or in their ear. The house phone has gone extinct and we are always reachable - no matter where we may be. Is this good? 

On many levels being able to reach someone and write a little loving note on Facebook when you would otherwise not have time to show such sentiment is great. To call someone when your car breaks down - that's not only convenient - in some ways it can save your life. To use your cell phone for directions is helpful for navigating through small towns and obscure places. To take pictures and share them with people you never get to see is priceless. I see all the up-sides to it. It's a great way to communicate and yet I feel it's hindering communication greatly. 

These days we know what everyone is up to, but not because of a verbal exchange. We know how they are because we saw their posts on Facebook. I suppose it's reassuring to know everyone is doing well and prospering in life through pictures and tidbits, but what about conversations by way of lunch dates or phone calls or even hand written letters? Most people will say they haven't the time for such forms of communication. Well, aren't these personal devices supposed to help save you time? Where is all the time going? If your life is neatly organized on your cell phone with calendars and alarms and amazing apps to help you save time - why don't you have time for anyone? 

In the recent past I have noticed that I have so many hours during the day to read, to write, to develop ideas, to learn and to grow, but they are being wasted. Technology has taken my time. Keeping up with what's going on in all the circles is time consuming. Watching the latest YouTube sensations - there goes an hour or more. Pinning my Pinterests and seeing what all my Pin Pals are pinning takes up another hour. Then, I head over to Facebook and there I see that there's a quiz to take on Grey's Anatomy - gotta see if I know the show as well as I think I do. Then, my friend just posted pictures from her European vacation and I must look at every single picture and comment on how beautiful she is and how amazing their trip looked. Then, there's the post that stumps the brain, "How many triangles do you see?" - I make my guess then look at the rest of the comments to see that my # isn't the most answered and so I re-calculate and re-count. Then, I see that Miranda Lambert has a new music video which leads me back to YouTube and to about 3-4 more videos on the side panel that look interesting. I make it back to Facebook to see it’s my turn to play the 25 Scrabble Games I've been invited to play. So I take my turns just to see that my 10 games of SongPop have all been played by my opponents and I really do hate to make people wait on my account - so I take my turns. Then, I click on "Most Recent" at the top of my homepage just to see if I've missed anything while I was busy playing games and well... wouldn't you know, I haven't seen the 3 Pro-Marijuana posts, 14 cat photos, 5 Pro-Obama, 10 Anti-Obama, and 7 Pro-Firearms posts that all my friends have liked or shared. There goes 3 hours of my time - *Poof* - gone. There's no getting those hours back and really what do I have to show for that lapse of time? ABSOLUTELY... NOTHING! 

Literally, just now in the middle of writing this blog, I went back over to Facebook and clicked, "Sort: Most Recent." Had to see what I've missed. That's a huge problem. I cannot even control my addiction to Social Media. It is a problem on so many levels and in so many ways. Most crucial is how it distracts from so many projects, stories and things I want to do. I waste my time on this fluff instead of creating. That never used to be me. You couldn't keep me away from my computer or writing pad - I wanted to be coming up with my own "masterpieces." Now I'd rather check out what's hip or new on Facebook? Why? It's always the same and whatever's not the same - will be there when I really have the time to waste - which let's face it is NEVER. Life is short and is this really how we want to spend our precious minutes? Another way it hinders my life is that others are more addicted than I am. Seriously, when I'm at a restaurant or at an outing - the most I'll ever do is "Check In" then my phone goes away - unless there are pictures to take - but honestly when I'm with my friends or loved ones - I give them my attention. I'm so against surfing the web on your phone when you're with people. You're not opening yourself up to conversation and life experiences - you aren't even there if you're on your phone. Another way it hinders my life is at home - sometimes between the hours of 6pm-10pm Paul and I are just on our phones playing some game or just watching videos, checking out websites, etc. That's unacceptable! That's precious US time - gone!  Priorities are so screwed up. 

In the last few weeks I've implemented a no phone zone at home from the hours of 6pm-9pm. Luckily, we have been outside (love the longer days) walking or running or hiking so that it’s not been that much of issue. The deal we've agreed on is if we break the rule - we have to put $1 into a jar. I don't know what else to do. It's taken over my whole world. Technology and what's going across the Internet Horizon make up 70% of what we talk about these days. Why? There's SO MUCH MORE to talk about and explore. 

I remember the days when you'd get lost looking at a paper map and you'd discover some place you never expected to find and it was an adventure. I remember the days when you'd get to hear stories about your ancestors instead of sitting in front of the television watching fiction. I remember the days when playing Clue or Monopoly with your family was a chance to bond instead of everyone sitting on their own phones playing Bejeweled alone. I remember the days when a news story was something profound and meaningful and it would take a couple days to circulate. Now the biggest news is who's dating who or who's breaking up with who in real time via Twitter. 

I love the luxury of technology. I love being able to write this and many people get to read it - anywhere and everywhere. I love to see pictures of my high school friend's children on Facebook and watch their families grow. I love the artistic pictures and amazing creative avenues the World Wide Web offers us all. Every wonderful thing has its downside and unfortunately the addictive property Social Media has is what I need to detox myself from. I don't have to know every he said/she said. Just think of the 1900s when all you had was newspapers and books. They managed to have full, meaningful lives... Our "More, more, more..." mentality leaves us with less. 

I am so very thankful to have grown up in a time when MTV was just beginning and they actually played music. I am thankful that I lived in a time where if you had a personal computer or a cell phone it meant you were rich. I am very thankful to have seen the difference between 1986 and 2006 firsthand. Not sure I'd want to go all the way back to an age before computers or cell phones, but I sure do realize how they've changed communication and not completely for the better. To quit an addiction, you have to be mindful that one exists and take the appropriate steps to rid yourself of it. I think the first step is making human interaction hold more of your attention than that little computer in your pocket. Look up and into the eyes of people as you talk to them one on one - that's what is missing in our technology frenzied world. "Contact," isn't just a number in your cell phone's address book - it is holding someone's hand and feeling their heart beat! 

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