UNPLUG – Disconnecting from Technology
Has your computer ever locked up, cable frozen, or microwave gone crazy? Recently I called tech support on our malfunctioning internet service. Their first question was, “Have you tried unplugging it, letting it rest for a bit, and then plugging it back in?”. Well, no I had not. The technician laughed and replied that they don’t really know why, but most of the time that works. It’s a chance for the equipment to cool off, and the systems to reset.
This got me thinking about the human condition. Do people need this too? We are bombarded with technology throughout our day. There is the obvious stuff like cell phones, computers, and televisions. But there is also the less obvious… the electric toothbrush, the grilling tool with a phone app for perfectly cooked steaks, the sound machine in the bedroom, the pacing watch for exercising. Our lives are filled with devices that buzz and beep, alerting us to stop, start, go faster, or switch directions. These devices are intended to enhance our lives, to make them easier. Or is it more efficient? More enjoyable?
IS ELECTRONIC SUPPORT PRODUCING THE INTENDED OUTCOMES?
Recently someone asked me for my son’s phone number, and I realized I didn’t know it. When I want to call him, I tell my phone his name and ask it to call him. I used to remember numerous passwords, plus the phone numbers of my friends, family, and businesses I called most frequently. My reliance on technology has actually stifled my ability to store this kind of information in my brain. Sure it feels so convenient to simply ask my phone to call someone, but is this really helping me? This “tool” has reduced my ability to retain numeric data in my brain, instead becoming a crutch or even hinderance. I wonder, if I stopped storing phone numbers and passwords electronically, would my abilities come back?
DO WE CONTROL THE TECCHNOLOGY OR DOES IT CONTROL US?
All these technological tools are often described as “improving efficiency” or “making life easier”. However, as we rely on them more, we are losing the skills to do things independently. Younger generations are growing up without even learning some key skills. We were recently driving in an area with poor cell reception. The map on my cell phone stopped working, so I asked my kids to get the map out from the glove box. They looked at me like I had lost my mind. Yep, parenting fail there. They use maps in school, but not to navigate in real life. You haven’t really lived until you are navigating one-way streets in downtown San Francisco with an unwieldly map, while the driver is literally moving as you try to figure things out. My kids get it conceptually, but I fear they lack the efficiency to actually get me anywhere.
So just as I was contemplating requesting an Apple watch or Garmin for my birthday/Christmas gift this year, this profound life lesson courtesy of the wifi technician occurred. Perhaps what I need instead is to disconnect from technology more, not connect in deeper? This proved true on a recent weekend outing with a friend to a location without cell reception or internet. It was so liberating to be free of all the messages, emails and social media for a few days. Summer camp for adults… aka technology detox… equaled so much personal conversation and time in nature. It was amazing!
I came across this quote from Annie Lamott that sums it all up beautifully,
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Hence, I made the image above to help me remember her words, echoed in the life lesson from the WiFi technician and my weekend technology break. Each day I need to find time to get away from all the little technological enhancements in life. Reading a book, walking, or even sitting in nature and listening to the sounds and drinking in the beauty it provides. That means leaving the phone, fitness tracker, etc. at home.
Are you up for the challenge? It just might reboot your day like my WiFi and make you more efficient too! 😊