Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who Is In Charge? You Or Your Tech?

One thing I've never quite understood is how people feel ruled by their gadgets. When I used to read Tim Challies, I came across something (might have been in one of his books) about how his family had to take a weeklong vacation to a cabin in the woods to get away from their phones and laptops. One of his blog posts was about that kind of topic; about how they had to leave their phones in another room during dinner so they wouldn't be interrupted.

I got into a discussion with people in one of his comment threads. I accused people facetiously of having to bury their phones in the yard during family time, and commented that when I don't want to be bothered by my phone, I just shut it off. Somebody said I must be a better man than they are. That's probably true, but it doesn't answer my question: why don't you just shut the F'ing phone off when it gets out of hand?

I had another discussion at work this week in a similar vein. As much dislike as I have for the BlackBerry platform, I find the devices useful and convenient at times, especially when I'm not in the office and can't connect my non-wifi having work laptop to VPN.

In two years on my job I've asked a few times about getting a BlackBerry. One time I commented that I don't rate one. My supervisor said "That's not true, but if I got you one then I'd have to get one for the rest of the team." Oh, great. I'm 40 years old with a college degree, military experience, decades of professional experience and a solid track record of getting things done, but I can't have a BlackBerry because then all the other children would want one. Yeah, the Baby Boomers have sure created an effective and productive workplace.

So when I commented to coworkers about this, I got the usual "Why would you want that? I don't want one. I don't want to be ruled by it!" When I asked "Then why not just shut it off when you don't want to be bothered by it? That's what I've always done." I got a blank look.

What prompted this rant is a new Michael Hyatt post, "3 Reasons To Keep Your Laptop Closed This Weekend". No doubt, this will be a huge hit with his audience, which isn't the same audience as when I started reading his blog in 2004. But it's an audience that makes him money, so good for him.

Look, life is about balance. We have some really cool tech today. Much of it is useful to us. It enables us to get a lot done, and get some relaxation too.

The key is not to forget who is in charge. My finance is working this weekend, so I'll probably spend part of the morning on my MacBook Pro. I'm about done with email, so I'll go to Feedly to catch up on blog posts. Then I'll probably shut the lid for a while, and read a book on my Kindle. Then I'll most likely go to my Roku to watch some Netflix. I'm currently working my way through Star Trek: TNG. And if at any point I get tired of it, I'll put it down and walk away and do something else.

Enjoy your tech. Get as much as you want or need. But never forget who is ultimately in charge. Don't let it rule your life. Create some balance. If you don't, you'll just enable bloggers to keep creating softball crap content about burying your phone in the yard during dinner so you don't get interrupted.

Although I guess if softball crap content is where the money is, maybe I should head in that direction. 
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