Friday, February 11, 2011
Reflection – part 1 of 3: “Ask Yourself”
We text, we tweet, we e-mail. We follow, we re-connect, we e-read. We mobilize electronically, we web-search, we share world-wide. This used to be: we make a phone call, we write a letter, we drive to meet with someone. We stand on a soap crate to mobilize for our cause. We browse dusty library shelves to find that one great book. How things change. How the way we seek and use information changes. How we relate to and connect with others changes.
These changes are great because they serve accessibility, convenience, efficiency, and speed. It breaks down boarders, distances, and some of the confinements and restrictions imposed by some political systems. It’s a greener way of doing things and it’s anonymous, if you want it to be. It improves accessibility for people with limitations and it has an enormous range. Everything seems available, always, and marketeers have convinced almost everybody that we even have an inherent right to have everything we want without waiting for it. Isn’t that great?
Yes, in certain ways it is. And it might also be a curse. Because I wonder what all this does to our attention, to our awareness, to our patience, to our appreciation, to our social skills, to our values, and to the way we perceive ourselves, others, and the world. I don’t have all the answers (do we ever?) but I wonder and I invite you to wonder with me.
In restaurants I see couples texting happily while dinner is being served. In shops, I see moms and dads and, of course, their children texting and tweeting while standing in line or just standing in another shopper’s way. I see my son playing on his I-touch before breakfast – you never know, she might not notice this once. I hear of people getting out of their bed after turning of the light to check their I-phone after that all too familiar beep. I hear people talk about their best friends,that they've never met in person. I see myself being distracted while researching a topic for my blog – so many sites, articles, referrals let alone the e-mails, tweets, and texts that keep buzzing by.
To be clear, this is not a lecture opposing modern technology of which I am a happy user myself. I love my kindle, my cell, my I-touch, my laptop as I do the sites, blogs, and tweets. Or most of them and most of the time. I am all about growth, change, creations, experiments, and progress. And of coures focus, choice, and discipline are part of the equation.
I am merely inviting you to wonder with me. I’m inviting you to ask yourself some questions that too often go unasked:
1. How present am I when I am in a conversation with someone? Am I really there, in the here-and-now, with body and mind, listening to the spoken and unspoken words and intentions? Am I free of distractions to be fully aware of what is going on inside me, inside the other person, and between us?
2. Am I really that much more efficient/happy/enriched doing so many things at the same time and switching from one activity to another, fragmenting rather than focusing. Many studies suggest that multi-tasking and flying from one activity to another and back again has negative effects on precision, speed, quality, and safety - in the case of operating cars and other machines.
3. Do I take time to learn backwards and dream forwards? Do I take time to relax while staring out the window, while enjoying a beautiful piece of Frank Lloyd Webber, while walking in the woods, or while just mesmerizing on my deck with a glass of Gruner Veltliner in the absence of modern distractions?
4. Do I still know and live the values that form the foundation of my parenting, my leadership, my life? Did they change along the way and is any of that to be contributed to my use of technological advances (because I certainly don’t blame technology itself)? Am I still breathing and modeling my values and following my purpose?
Enough food for psychologists to research for many years to come. Enough questions for you to contemplate and munch on and try and find answers to. Or even better: to follow up with more questions, especially the “Why” question.