I struggling with technology. It is more and more difficult to sit in front of a computer for most of every day, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing. I long for the empty moments of silence when unexpected words will enter my consciousness, when new thoughts and ideas and notions – about life, friendship, love, creativity, or a project I’m working on – will take me with them down some unexpected path, will so thoroughly inhabit me with fresh insight that I’m filled with new energy, instead of being controlled by a guilty obligation to answer one more email, read one more notification. I love technology, but it is here to serve me, not the other way around and it can easily control one’s life. And those moments…for me…cannot happen in the insistent and demanding presence of technology.
We are letting technology take us places that we don’t want to go. Our little devices… are so psychologically powerful that they not only change what we do, they change who we are. People text or email during corporate board meetings…during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you’re texting. Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner, while their children complain about not having their parents’ full attention, but then these same children deny each other their full attention. We even text at funerals. We remove ourselves from our grief or our reverie and we go into our phones. We are setting ourselves up for trouble. Certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves. We are getting used to a new way of being “alone together.” – Sherry Turkle, TEDTalk, Connected, but alone?
Does anyone else place limits on the use of technology? I do. For instance, I don’t want to have dinner at a restaurant with someone whose cell phone lies next to their fork, and answers it whenever it rings or buzzes with a notification. I cook for friends often and cell phones are not allowed at my dinner table. Face-to face conversation with real live human beings is the reason I invite people to dinner. When I drive interstate, my phone is connected to my car and I’m available to talk, but I do not allow myself to be controlled by it. I decide whether to answer or not.
We have a television in our bedroom, but I have long agreed with reports about how difficult it can be to sleep if watched within an hour or so before bedtime. I prefer to read. In the early morning when I first wake up, I like to sit with my coffee and tune into the sound of the wind, the sounds within my own soul and heart, before diving into the vast sea of technology that comprises my day.
I crave silence and the opposite of silence…for me…is not technology. It is music and dance and writing out of choice rather than guilt or obligation. And it is the sound of the wind and birds singing. It is the sound of friendship and conversation and deep meaningful relationships.
So…I offer you technology in all its glory, as it presents a TEDTalk about this subject via the interesting Sherry Turkle, a psychologist whose life is deeply entwined with that of technology and who has some wise things to say about its effect on our relationships with ourselves and those we love.