Is Technology Really Making Life Easier?
I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s when there were no computers, PDA’s or cell phones. There were no microwaves, no DVD’s, no MP3 players and there were only about 7 good stations on television. We didn’t stay home and play video games all day because there were no video games to speak of back then. Instead we played outside, talked to our friends on the phone and listened to music.
I was telling this to my two sons the other day and they sat there stunned as they found this concept hard to wrap their brain around. I suspect that I did the same as a child when my own parents told me about their childhood and what the world was like.
Today we are told that technology is here to make our lives easier. The microwave helps us cook food faster. The internet helps us get information faster and allows us to stay connected with friends, family and business associates. We have more television stations to give us more choices, we have cell phones so that we can stay in touch with each other and we have laptop computers so that we can access the internet anywhere in the world.
Ok… let’s look at that last paragraph again.
From where I’m sitting, it looks like all our sophisticated modern technology has done the opposite… it has made our lives crazier! It has given us less time instead of more.
If you are in your twenties and thirties, think about your parent’s childhood and what life was like back then. If you are in your forties or older (like me… sigh) then think about your own childhood. What happened to everybody when office hours came to an end? What happened when people left work and went home?
What did they do?
They had time to think and reflect and do something very few of us do in today’s world… they relaxed!
When I was growing up, we didn’t have cell phones and laptop computers so we relaxed, went out to dinner, took walks, watched television, listened to music and read a book. We turned our minds off for a while and allowed it to reboot itself.
Modern technology has taken this away from us. Instead of resting when we get home from work, we work on our laptops and constantly check our PDA’s. We take our cell phones and answer them wherever we are… in restaurants, airplanes, movie theaters, soccer fields, in our car… everywhere!
When exactly do we rest and allow our minds to turn off for a little while?
Modern technology has made things harder. It has unleashed a monster called stress that is making our world sick and tired. It distracts us. It owns us!
Have you seen the Terminator movies? The one where machines rule the earth? Guess what? Machines rule our earth. Not in as nasty a way as the movie, but they rule the earth nevertheless. Technology rules.
Stress is a nasty thing that causes some even nastier diseases, and there are no antibiotics you can take for it. Stress kills and there is only one cure for it.
You need to rest.
Recently, Ron and I went to Disneyworld in Florida with our boys. We took our cell phones and the laptop because we wanted to check our email and voice mail while we were there. For some strange reason though, the cell phones mostly stayed in the room because we kept forgetting to bring them, and we never even turned on the laptop. Before we knew it, we went almost an entire week without checking any of our messages. I checked them about halfway through the week and returned a few calls, but for the most part everything stayed off.
Did the world end? Did we lose our company? Did clients walk away?
We came home with our minds refreshed and returned the calls, answered the email and life rolled on. We were tired of course (have you ever done four theme parks in four days?) but nothing happened. Life as we know it didn’t end!!! Instead we were able to focus on the job at hand because we were refreshed and relaxed.
Technology speeds up our ability to do things. We can research faster, cook faster, and be in contact with other people faster. However, it also causes us to feel the need that we have to be in contact all the time! We feel we have to check our email at 10:00 p.m. at night, we have to answer that telephone during dinner, and we have to check our PDA every hour no matter where we are.
When do you rest and turn your mind off?
I understand that everyone wants to move forward. I totally get that. However, in order to move forward, you have to occasionally take a few steps back so that you can get a better look at where you want to go.
So what can we do?
We can turn off the computer after dinner and not turn it back on until the morning. We can turn our cell phone off once in a while and let the voice mail answer it. We can take a walk. We can go on vacation without the laptop. We can even go on vacation and only check our voice mail once or twice! The world won’t stop! People might think you’ve been abducted but so what? You’ll get back in touch with them.
If you don’t rest and let your body and brain reboot itself, then your body will break down. In the end, technology will deprive you of the true quality of life because it will be sick and you won’t be able to do what you want to do.
So here’s my challenge…
I challenge each and every one of you reading this article to lose your cell phone for a day or two and see what happens. I challenge you to turn off your computer at around 6 p.m. at night and not turn it back on under any circumstances until the next morning for one week. Then watch what happens!
Everyone tells you that you need to eat right and get plenty of exercise. Absolutely true! However, there is a third even more important key to life… you need to rest!
So turn your mind off for a while. Listen to some music. Read a book. Talk to your kids. Go shopping. Go to a comedy show and laugh.
Stop ignoring what your body is telling you! I know that it has been urging you to slow down and take a breath. Listen to it. It knows what it’s doing.
Now let’s see… I’m writing an article about the evils of technology on my computer, my phone is ringing next to me and an email just arrived.
Hmmm… guess it might be time to take a break!