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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Change, Technology¸ and Time

Our advancement is directly related to technology and our dependency from technology is increasing on a daily basis.  Many of us embrace the laptop, I-pod touch, I-Phone, I-Pad,  face book, twitter, LinkedIn and everything that is still to come. In the past decennium we’ve developed many brilliantly designed and time-saving tools. Then how is it that we have (or more correctly feel) we have less time than ever? We are constantly online, available, responding, checking, chatting, and researching out of a fear to miss out on something if we’re not constantly on-line and in touch. In the meantime we forget the importance of time off to reflect, contemplate, relax, and create. In the near future you might have a hard time remembering the joy of real life friends and live contacts as opposed to face book friends that we’ve never actually met and electronic conversations.  A plea for non-advancement and non-change? Hardly. Just a plea for non-change regarding our priorities in life, like the joy and advantages of real-life face to face time (not counting the I-phone 4 face-time possibilities), the advantages of seeing body language and facial expressions, the value of  laughing, arguing, or crying while in the same physical space. I might be old-fashioned, but I think I know when to enjoy my kindle, I-touch, I-phone, and other modern tools and when to put them away and be present, really present, for others and myself.
Some researchers suggest that our ability for ‘deep thinking’ is negatively affected by the many temptations and interruptions instigated by the possibilities of the worldwide web and social media. Technology is so fast you can feel you’re lagging behind constantly and you can feel overloaded - one of the first signs of stress and burn-out.  I recently heard a news broadcast about a mother being sued by her husband for neglecting her real child while completely obsessed by her computer baby. But let’s not make it too dramatic, since most of us can manage the virtual and the real life (if I may still separate the two) relatively well. I merely encourage you to not trade in your old-fashioned priorities for spending real time with loved ones and colleagues. Walk to that desk rather than sending yet another e-mail, tweet or text message.  Consider the benefits of a handwritten Thank You note as compared to an  electronic message. Consider the added value of staring out the window and contemplating the day ahead, your recent choice, the difficult situation requiring attention, or the way you live your passion and your values.
The University of Oregon recently introduced a new term: techno-stress and the Health Journal talks about the necessity of breaking free from techno-stress by unplugging daily to avoid technology overload. The interesting thing is that we all hear and read about it, and as is so often the case, chances are high that you are convinced that you are doing really well. As with so many situations or dilemmas, it’s always ‘the other guy’ who is guilty or suffering from it. But do you ever really disconnect these days? A question only you can answer. I know this: I surely appreciate the handwritten card from my family. I really do appreciate my girlfriend dropping off home-made cookies to take on our road trip. And I so enjoy walking with a friend, hearing children play, and discussing one of many topics with all technology turned off. It’s called taking care of myself and valuing people-time. Back to the question of change, technology, and time: as with anything else in life, it’s a matter of awareness and of choice. What you’re not aware of you can’t influence let alone change or bring back to an original state. Once you’re aware, you can choose your attitude and your action. Sounds simple, can be pretty tough at times. And while I’m writing all this on our road trip to Chicago, I suddenly burst out in laughter while looking at the dashboard of our car that I’ve turned into an office desk. Who am I fooling here? I better start staring out that window.

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