It seems like I end up musing on this topic at least once a year. This go round was motivated by watching a bunch of my colleagues get to the end of the year scrambling with their “use or lose” vacation. And NACHRI has VERY generous carry over policies, so it’s not like we can only carry a week. Why is this a good thing? Around here, it definitely does NOT come from the top, as our CEO provides a good model of work-life balance, particularly when it comes to truly vacationing (as opposed to “going on vacation” but taking your Blackberry and laptop).
Studies have demonstrated that being “always on” can produce serious depression and lead to shallow relationships. Technology, particularly social media technology, can eat your life if you let it. It’s almost addictive, to the point that Firefox includes add-ons that will control it for you, if you can’t for yourself. And it may exacerbate problems like ADD/ADHD.
Constantly checking our email, FB updates, or Twitter stream precludes contemplation, deep conversations, “flow” states, and being in the moment – we’re too busy worrying about all the *other* moments we might be missing. And in the meantime, we’re missing *our* moments.
I’m not saying dump all technology or social media. I’m just encouraging us all to think about both the benefits and the costs all this convenience brings us. Every person has to decide what the right balance of on/off is for herself. But be honest with yourself – are your online relationships hurting your face-to-face relationships? When was the last time you put away the computer and the smart phone for a week – or even a day? Did you lose any vacation because you “didn’t have time” to take it last year? When was the last time you sat in silence and watched something of nature? When was the last time you took a walk without a phone or iPod? When was the last time you read a novel – or an actual print newspaper? When was the last time you went out with your significant other – or best friend – and both of you turned off your cell phones for the evening?
KiKi’s encouraging us to think about a Tech Detox, too. Go to her blog to offer your ideas about what that would include for you.