Archive for October, 2011

Leaving Technology on the Counter

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I have been a negligent blogger, and it hasn’t been for lack of material. Several times a day I either read something or eat something or do something and think, I should blog about that. I don’t know what happened except that I went on vacation a month ago and technology was pretty much put on hold all week. We went to the Ocean City, NJ and played in the sand, swam in the ocean, walked the boardwalk went on rides. None of those activities required a cell phone, a computer or any other form of technology. I didn’t leave my cell phone at home. I just didn’t carry it with me. I looked it at maybe once a day to check my email or the weather forecast, but most of the time it just laid on the counter, untouched.

It was nice to take a break from technology.  As a software engineer, I spend most of my day in front of a computer, typing and clicking. When I leave work, the thought of using a computer is totally unappealing. I sit at a desk all day looking at the glow of a monitor navigating between windows and doing lots of typing and reading. We aren’t allowed cell phones where I work, and I know that for most people this would be a travesty. Since I have worked like that for over 11 years now, it actually seems to be a blessing. In fact, I have never experienced a work environment where everyone has a cell phone and frequently uses it.

When I first entered the workforce, cell phones were just emerging but were really only used for emergencies. Texting wasn’t available, and taking a cell phone call in public was awkward and rude. Times have certainly changed. We’ve all experienced that conversation with a friend or acquaintance where he or she spent the whole conversation taking peeks at their phones, maybe reading or responding to texts, checking new emails, and who knows what else. It is so annoying to talk to someone and not have their full attention. I could go on and on at what I think is rude when using a cell phone, but I’ll refrain.

My point is that taking a break from technology was refreshing. I felt focused on my kids and my husband. One night we were in line to take the kids on old-fashioned cars on the boardwalk, and I noticed a mom sitting in the backseat while her young daughter was “driving” in the front seat. The daughter was smiling and turning around talking animatedly with her mom throughout the whole ride. The mom was oblivious to her daughter’s excitement and not engaged in the experience because she spent the whole time texting. At first I had to chuckle at how silly the mom looked ignoring her kid on a kid’s ride to read and send a couple of texts. Then I felt sorry for her daughter. How often does her mom ignore her while she texts? It made me glad that I left my phone at home.
Abandoning your phone for an afternoon changes your whole experience. Without the distraction, I guarantee that you’ll see more and absorb more. You’ll focus on your family and your surroundings. It’s ok to be disconnected for some part of the day. You really will survive reading a text 2 hours after it was sent. Maybe everyone should try leaving the phone on the countertop for an afternoon.

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