The jury is still out in my mind whether I love technology or hate it. Some days I am giddy with the technological breakthroughs that I use every day. Some days I want to just throw out anything electrical and go live in the woods. I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I can feel such vastly different things at different times.
Just looking around the desk where I am typing this, the assortment of technologies is thick. There’s my computer, of course, my new cell phone, my old cell phone, a digital camera, my Kindle, and my Boogie Board (LCD white board). Not to mention the other things I use in my daily life: my work computer, our SmartBoard “chalkboard” in the classroom, the television, the XBOX One (with Kinect), the microwave, the stove, our electric lights, the refrigerator, my ice cream machines and so on.
Some days my life seems way too digital and plugged in. However, in many ways I am grateful for my technology. I love camping and backpacking but having a refrigerator and a real stove is not something I’d give up. Electric lights? Heck yeah. Churning ice cream by hand? Heck no. Sure, there is a difference between the tablet/smart phone addiction science and the media are always going on about and basic every day electronics. I’d like to argue, though, that the differences aren’t that big. Every new technology gets disparaged when it comes on the scene, and soon enough people can’t see living without it.
I have seen scientific articles about the benefits of smart tablet/phone technology for education and productivity. I’ve also seen scientific articles about the detriments of the same technologies on brain development and learning capabilities. As a naturalist and a teacher I’ve seen examples that fit both the hopes and the fears of digital technology. Since the experts and my anecdotal evidence are both mixed, I’m not willing to throw out the baby with the bath water.
I think the thing that is helping me balance the technology in my life is thus: technology is the tool, not the focus. Plus a healthy dose of “everything in moderation”: Am I using the technology as a tool or am I using it just to use it? I run a business: my smart phone is a tool for that. It’s my cash register, my accountant, and my business’ social media control center. I enjoy playing games, the XBOX or my computer is a tool for doing that just as much as my large collection of actual board and card games.
The key for me is that when I end up spending waaaay too much just puttering around doing nothing of any import on one of those devices then it’s time to re-evaluate what I’m doing. Am I playing games on my phone because I enjoy those games or because I’m feeling mentally drained? If it is the latter, what can I do to help myself feel better instead of just courting carpal tunnel with my cell phone? Am I reading nonsense articles on the internet because I just want some goof-off time, or am I avoiding doing something important? I feel there is a time and a place for goofing off but when I get to the end of the week and think “I wish I’d done X” it’s time to make sure that I set aside time for that. Besides, goofing off happened before cell phones, before computers, before rock&roll or even the printing press.
In the meantime, I blog on the computer, I communicate with my phone, I read books on my Kindle and I use the Boogie Board for notes, sketches and doodles. Enjoy! :)