When I recently visited my elderly, ultra tech-challenged father (he still has trouble with his answering machine – forget about him ever getting a computer), I brought along my netbook to see if I’d be able to pick up a signal at his house.
He marveled at how small my laptop was. “Is that a full computer?” he asked. I told him it was. We talked a bit about how far we’ve come with the Internet and technology.
He shook his head and asked, “Is the Internet open 24 hours a day”? Of course, I answered “yes”.
I think he was politely nudging me to put the thing aside while we were visiting. But did that little question of his ever hit home with me.
Yes, the Internet never closes, but I certainly don’t have to take advantage of its non-stop availability so much.
I didn’t intend to check emails or Twitter or anything while I was visiting (how rude would that be!), but I was hoping I could show him my blogs, because he’d never seen anything I’ve done online. Honest! That’s all I was going to do.
Besides, I couldn’t pick up a signal anyway.
But you know how it is. These portable devices make it so easy to happily stay connected . . . endlessly.
My friend Tim Tyrell-Smith put it so well in his post, Your Computer is NOT Your Friend:
“Some days your computer feels like a great friend. Doing all that work for you. Humming along. Keeping you company on those long days during job search.
But it’s not the great friend you think it is. It is dastardly.
It can destroy your focus. Lock you down in a false state of perceived productivity. You can spend hours each day wasting your time.”
Jeff Atwood had this to say in his post, Email: The Variable Reinforcement Machine:
“Go ahead, pull the ‘new email’ lever. Take a chance. Most of the time you’ll end up a loser, the proud recipient of yet another spam email, a press release you don’t care about, or some irrelevant conversation someone has cc:ed you into. But not always. There are those rare few times when you’ll hit the jackpot: you’ll get an important bit of information you needed, or tentative contact from a long lost friend or associate, or other good news.
We’re so ecstatic to get that single useful email out of hundreds that we can’t keep ourselves from compulsively pressing the new email lever over and over and over, hoping it will happen again soon.”
In an attempt to break my semi-addiction, I set a goal a few weeks ago. NO SOCIAL MEDIA OR COMPUTERS AT ALL ON SUNDAYS!!!
I mean, is it really necessary to check emails on Sunday, when I know I won’t respond until Monday . . . or keep up with social networking, when nothing happening there will be so critical I have to deal with it on Sunday. Isn’t it more important to rest my eyes and shift thoughts away from business at least one day a week?
So far, I was successful in meeting my goal on one Sunday out of the past three. And it was wonderful to disconnect for that one whole day. Let’s see what happens this Sunday.