I have seen this image all over Facebook and it makes me smile and sad at the same time. I really love technology and wouldn’t want to go back to the card catalogue, encyclopedia era of days gone by. I love that I can watch a movie at home with my family, not having to pay close to $50 for the outing (thank you inventor of the DVD) and I can put it on pause (a big shout out to the inventor of the remote control) and look up where it was filmed (gratitude for Google). There are countless ways technology has enhanced my life and enriched my experiences. As my son once said to my husband and I in an effort to campaign for more freedom to make some decisions in his life, “It’s not the food in a buffet that is the problem; it’s the person who lacks control and gorges himself.” Wise words, my oldest son. And yes, his argument won him the freedom he was campaigning for
But there are times when technology distracts us from our story. I see it all the time when I go to restaurants or grab a coffee at Starbucks – people sitting across the table from another human, texting, googling, instagramming, Facebooking, tweeting, twerping. They are together in body but not together wholly. I have been guilty of the same thing. When I purchased my first iPhone, I boldly proclaimed to my husband that I wouldn’t be one of those people choosing technology over relationship. NOT! I have fallen into the trap and when I realize it, I give myself a time out, as well as my technology.
And our stories aren’t only diminished in the company of others, but it happens when we are alone. I sit at my computer to write/create and then I check my email, Facebook, look up the weather, check out an ad that pops up, and before I know it, I have wasted thirty minutes of the time I set apart to create.
I heard an author on NPR yesterday who spoke on this very thing. Sorry, I can’t remember her name. She talked about the key to determine if technology is in its proper place is in the word enhance.
en’hans: intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of.
Is technology enhancing me and my relationship to others? While I’m using it, is it adding to my experience and enriching my relationships? Sometimes the answer is yes. Our family has had some incredible discussions while using technology. I have laughed until I’ve cried watching some videos on YouTube. I have learned things, discovered some incredible ways to create, read wonderful blogs, seen things, improve myself, and so much more.
And then there are the times that I missed relationships by being distracted. I’ve wasted time. I’ve been lazy. I’ve missed opportunities. Sadly, I think we all have.
So, my litmus test about the place of technology in any given situation of my life could be: Does it enhance or diminish my story and experience?
I will fail at times, but it will be a good question to ground myself when I find I’m being swept up into the swirl of technology, not living my story.