Like many of you out there, I love my weekends. This past weekend was particularly nice, and for those of us who don’t have to work on weekends, we should consider it a blessing. I had the house to myself and usually I have the news or radio on but decided to just turn it off and listen to … well… nothing electronic for a while.
I live out in the country and often enjoy sitting on the front porch with a cup of coffee and watch the humming birds fly around the feeder. The hawks circle above the meadow looking for their next meal or perhaps they just love to soar. There is so much wonder around us to enjoy when we take the time to disconnect from our phones, televisions, radios, game consoles, or anything else with a battery or a plug. Turning this noise off allows us to think and imagine. It provides balance to our lives.
This may seem odd coming from an admitted techno weenie like myself. I make my living working with technology and helping others get the most out of their technology. I love learning new things, and have become quite good at what I do for a living. However, there comes a time when we all need to just put down all this electronic “stuff” and get in touch with what makes us all human. A wise person once told me that finding a balance in life was the key to happiness and fulfillment.
When I do tune into the news and current events, or watch how people interact with each other at a restaurant, it seems like we are paying more attention to our devices and ignore the actual breathing human beings right next to us. I stopped at McDonald’s the other day for a cup of coffee and observed a young family in the table next to me. Both parents and both kids were absorbed with their cell phones and hardly spoke a word to each other. What a missed opportunity, and what a shame. Those parents are going to realize that in a very short time their children quickly grow up and will be on their own. They are relinquishing the precious moments they have as a family so they can absorb an endless stream of useless information on social media.
I would never trade the quality time I spent with my family or the countless hours spent with my grandfather hunting and fishing in exchange for a video game or twitter feed. My grandparents are long gone now, but the life lessons, stories, experiences, and joy we shared will always stay with me.
All this “addiction” to social media, digital games, endless news cycles, and talking heads on TV, comes at a price. This electronic addiction is messing with our sense of reality. We are turning our families, neighbors, country and world into short digestible sound bites and videos. We have lost the ability to just sit down and talk to each other. We have lost the desire to actually read a long news article, meet other people who may have different beliefs that we do, and perhaps try to understand their world and walk a mile in their shoes.
So take some simple advice from a professional technologist… every so often, turn off all the electronic stuff and enjoy some quiet time by yourself, with friends or the ones you love. Technology is a wonderful tool, but it is not a replacement for human interaction.