We complain about technology, yet many of us use it – quite a bit. For example: If you are reading this, you are using technology. It begs the question, why are we using it if we dislike it so much? And what if we shifted our perspective a bit to stop complaining about it and start embracing it?
That is the focus this month – Technology as our friend, helper and connector.
A few incidents over the last few weeks have highlighted this point for me in unique ways:
Incident 1. In a large retailer, I wrote a check. I don’t write many checks, finding them cumbersome, preferring the simpler path of a debit card swipe. When the cashier tried to process the check in his system, there was an error. I watched him struggle, confounded by the system, growing more agitated as time he spent trying to solve it increased. He finally resolved it with managerial assistance and handed me my receipt with the words “technology sure doesn’t make anything easier!”
Really? Doesn’t it though? I mean he just scanned my items and all the prices popped up, calculated the total with tax for him; I handed him my phone with customer loyalty bar code open and he scanned it – no looking up for my account (pat on the back). All of that could have taken MUCH longer and been much tougher right? But yes, let’s focus on the one part that was hard.
Incident 2. In a college course I teach I lead a segment on generations in the workplace: each of the generations respond based on their experience. We had one segment with a very derisive attitude toward it “kids don’t know how to play outside anymore” and another generational segment who couldn’t imagine not being connected and could list all the benefits.
Is either wrong? Isn’t it situational rather than widespread? Yes, there are kids not getting enough exercise and depending too much time playing games. But there are also a lot of kids exercising, playing sports and using technology as wind down AND for school (gasp!). Teachers are referring parents to websites for extra work, homework is being submitted online, e-learning modules are increasing in use and on and on. If we are using it as a tool instead of an escape from life, is it really all that bad?
Incident 3. A couple of weeks ago I hosted a webinar called Everyday Spirituality Toolkit – I had teachers dial in from multiple locations, recorded it for replay and have been able to send out implementation support emails to anyone who attend or downloads the replay (go here if you are interested).
This kind of technology allows us to learn from a broader base of people, from across the globe and with amazing perspectives. And then – if you miss it – you can listen anyway!
The interwoven message for me was that technology is in the very fabric of our lives anymore and we can live in constant conflict with it, we can allow it to teach us or we can get as conscious in our employment of it as we are of the food we put in our body and be in the driver’s seat. We have a choice.
Technology is like anything, we can let it dominate us, or we can choose to use it as a tool. I can obsess about anything I want: food, fitness, reading, taking classes; really anything can become binge worthy. Anyone ever binge watched a Netflix show? I am raising my hand! You can lose yourself to many things, or you can chose to find yourself as you discover new experiences.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather become more centered in myself than spending time giving my power to something outside of me. Just sayin’
So if you have lost hours on social media – feel disconnected if you haven’t judged someone’s overly personal share on Instagram or snorted in derision at a tweet or snapchat or whatever your online viewer of choice is, then I need you to remember you made that decision. It isn’t the creator of any of those tools’ fault. It isn’t whoever showed you how to use it, it’s you. You have decided to let it in to your life, you can decide how big of a role it plays.
Technology isn’t bad. We can use it to connect: it is how I watch my nephew’s progress from 2000 miles away and how I got to see my niece’s reaction to a surprise Disney trip last week. We can use it to stay informed: to catch the latest headlines, research information and perspectives, and learn something new. We can also use it to entertain: jokes, movies, stories and more.
How we use technology isn’t always ideal. When we shame, bully, attack, overshare or pollute the atmosphere in some other way – yeah it can be ugly. The unpleasantness can be detached from though. We dictate our own behavior and choose it and we choose how we engage with others and how much space they get in our feeds and our lives. Just because they are family, doesn’t mean they are friend material.
Let’s Try it:
- Spend some time this week considering how you feel when you are using technology of any kind. Note the kind you use and how it makes you feel.
- Where you have a “negative” feeling about a technology, consider what you might change: who, how, frequency, etc.
- Make one change. I have spent the last few days spending very little time on social media – only about 15 minutes perhaps. Why? Because I was tired and the last thing I needed was to tune into drama. When I did scroll through, I actually unfollowed a few people because what they posted was the final straw in a series of “oh please” reactions I had experienced.
- Note how you feel after at least a week of operating differently. Keep what is working, and let go of what isn’t.
- Share with me what you learned!
Technology isn’t inherently bad. How we use it sometimes can be, but that is us – not technology. We decide. What decision do you need to make about technology?
Jennifer Murphy is an integrative life coach and founder of No Limits Life. She loves partnering with successful professionals who are ready to expand that feeling of success to all areas of their life. Learn more about events, programs and services at www.nolimitslife.guru