I love technology. I live it and embrace it. I sell and support it to a wide variety of clients. I feed my family by owning a business that advocates technology. But, I recognize that technology can also be as much a curse as a blessing. As I type this “blog”, I know that I’m using technology to set forth my thoughts that sometimes you have to once in a while, simply … turn it off.
A few years ago, I watched an Ellen DeGeneres TV special where she comically parodied the idea that we are slowly becoming a generation of instant short bursts of information and that this cannot be good for our brains. Ellen bobbed her head as if to read a TV news show scroll line, watch the show above the scroll line, read an email, and respond to a TXT message, over and over again. Ellen’s parody is, for many of us, reality. We are a newly defined generation of text messages, scroll lines, emails, short videos, fast photographs, vivid videos, quick quips, and 140 character tweets and the like. By the same token, as I embrace technology and innovation, I refuse to succumb to it 24/7. I worry about my children and their generation. Are our children able to form complete thoughts; complete sentences? Can they advocate a position in an argument with enough articulation to explain their positions on points of order?
As a father of 2 young teens, I realize my time when my children live under my roof is slowly coming to a conclusion. Soon they will be off in the world, making their own way, developing their own careers and starting their own families. I recognize that technology both binds us together (my 14 year old son, for example, loves his cell phone, his laptop and his X-BOX), but that same technology almost keeps us living parallel lives. We sit in the same room, my 12 year old daughter texting her friends and playing “apps” on her I-Touch, my son playing his NFL XBOX game and simultaneously answering text messages, my wife scanning her Facebook account and me answering emails and working on my laptop, all the while we have the TV on. Having recognized these issues as both blessings (how lucky are we to have information at our fingertips) and curses (for the previously described reasons), I have, of late, tried in earnest, to turn it all off at certain times of the day. And during those “off times” I try to engage my children in more thoughtful conversation. I want to hear their thoughts, discuss their impressions with them and share my insight with them. I still subscribe to and read the Sunday New York Times. Occasionally, I will discuss articles in the newspaper with them and ask them what they think about current events. If nothing else, they observe me “reading” a NEWSPAPER and hear me talking about what I have read. And while many may say that they can’t talk with their children, please dont’ give into that fear. I firmly believe that they’re listening. I hear the wisdom of my own parents in things that I say to this day. I’ll bet you do too.
So, while I advocate embracing technology as much as possible in your work place, at home, use discretion. If your cell phone rings at the family dinner table, ignore it; you can always call the caller back. If your email dings during a conversation with your son, daughter or spouse, look at it later. Leave your phone charging in the kitchen; don’t bring it into your bedroom. Instead, read a book; go to a movie; play a board game with your kids; exercise; cook a gourmet meal with your children/spouse; host a dinner party with friends. And, in a nutshell, use your noggin’….think for yourself. Engage in conversation with your spouse, your co-workers, and especially your kids; those will be the moments they cherish when they’re older. And as far as that email, text message, Facebook post or Tweet ….think tomorrow.