Thursday, April 9, 2015

Beyond technology: Better relationships

When I read the title, I wondered first:  will this be what it actually says?  Or is it a warm and fuzzy that makes you think it's going to be negative but then gets all happy on you?  Is it going to be a true story or will it be some angry person who doesn't have any real experience with it?  Well, the title 5 reasons we can't handle marriage anymore  ended up being exactly what it says...except it wasn't altogether negative or altogether positive and warm-fuzzies.  I think, instead, it was a commentary on life and relationships in general (despite relegation to solely marriage relationships).  The major thing I got out of it was the repetition of a lesson:

Own your technology and your life.  
Don't let technology own you or your life.

It's easier said than done, as the author describes, but it's so true that it hurts to read you try to put down your cell phone or computer while simultaneously continuing to read the article off of the bright-lit screen.

Do yourself a favor:

Take a break.  Do it for yourself and do it for the people you interact with.  Put your phone down.  Don't tweet.  Don't selfie.  Don't listen to music on your iPod.  Exist.  Breathe.  Say hello to someone.  Say hello to your family and friends and coworkers.  Ask about their day.  Tell them about the day you spent NOT hooked up via IV to your technological device.  Tell someone you love them.  Tell them you miss them.  Do something silly.  Make someone laugh.  DON'T post it all online.  And then?  Do it all over again.  How much will your life change?  What will be better?  What will be worse?  Anything?

Is it possible?

I went for over a month without my smartphone when it was left behind in a taxi.  A new friend (that I had met while waiting to board a plane drove 45 minutes while on her vacation to pick up my cell phone from the good taxi driver who returned it to my point of departure and brought it back from overseas to me.  Now if that isn't a whole lot of awesome...there's more.  For a month, I didn't do anything on the train or the bus or while walking except be there.  I talked to people.  I listened to people talk.  I didn't take pictures of everything that I saw that was cool...I made memories of them, instead.

Was it sometimes difficult to navigate without my gps? Sure.  But I grew up before GPS I found my way, or used mapquest before I left, or I ASKED people.  Real people.  In real-time.  Was it a little more difficult because my weather app didn't tell me everything that might come my way?  Sure...but my morning walk with the dog did, so it worked out!  Was it hard not to be accessible all the time?  Yeah, of course, especially when I had a lot of people trying to contact me about issues with my apartment but you know what?  Not being accessible meant I wasn't constantly distracted by messages and people and events pulling me away from what I was doing.  It's a teeter totter.  A balance.  You can't let technology (and all that it brings and offers) be in control of you.  You can't let the feaux-reality of the internet distract you from the reality that is your own life (nor the fact that the "reality" you are seeing is not "the whole truth and nothing but the truth").

When I got my phone back?  I still kept it on me but I use it less.  I text less.  I've been more prone to calling.  I've never been one to selfie, but I'm exceedingly aware of the standards that we are all comparing ourselves to of beauty and of lifestyle and it's stressful and hurtful.  I wonder why we do that?  I read recently "imagine what would happen to beauty care products if women all woke up tomorrow and realized they are already beautiful?"  Holy cow.  Chills.  It's true of men AND women.  We're all competitive and most of the time I think we don't even notice it.  Technology emphasizes it because we pick and choose good shots and good stories and best angles.  We comment and like posts anonymously and we are liked and commented on anonymously in return.  It's nice...but it's also not real.

Those days without a cell phone?  I found out it's easier to make eye contact with someone and compliment them on their cool shoes or nice jacket.  It's easier to tell the old man that there's a garbage can two feet away to the delight of other passengers who also noticed him throwing his trash on the ground around him.  It's easier to interact, period.  So go interact.  Don't lose your ability to interact and to read gestures and facial reactions and body language because you're too busy communicating through a dead device.  Live.  Love.  Show people.  Be physical.  Be real.  Be alive.

Maybe if you do, that article won't have to be so shockingly close to home forever.

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