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Disconnecting

SlashGear’s Philip Berne has a column on the site proposing his “anti-tech” New Year’s resolutions, an attempt to reduce the role of technology in his life. His resolutions include calling people instead of texting them, calling instead of sending a message on Facebook for friends’ birthdays, no more phone calls at the dinner table, seeing 2D versions of movies released in 3D, and, in his words, “use my gadgets to do things more than I do things on my gadgets,” which translates to using the gadgets as tools to accomplish what he needs to do.

Those are worthy goals, but I wonder how many of us can embrace all of them. Using myself as an example, I don’t text much, but I do use e-mail as a more convenient way of reaching people than calling, and I don’t think that’ll change; it saves too much time in my business, and helps me reach sources that can’t necessarily stop what they’re doing and talk when I need them to do so. But I SHOULD talk to friends and family more, and e-mail and texting are not real substitutes for the sound of one’s voice.


Birthdays? Depends on who it is. Closest family and friends? Yeah, gotta call, and if you’re close enough to send a gift, send a card, too, the old-fashioned way. But I know a lot of people to varying degrees, and I do like to acknowledge their happy day with a brief, friendly nod. Facebook’s ideal for that. Yes, it’s burdensome when you try to keep up with the avalanche of birthdays, but you don’t HAVE to acknowledge EVERY Facebook friend’s birthday. And it’s only impersonal if it’s replacing a tradition of calling or writing or visiting.

Calls at the dinner table were never permissible. I do get important calls at times when it’s inconvenient, but that’s why you excuse yourself and walk out of the restaurant or to another room where you won’t disturb someone. And if it’s not critically important — and it usually isn’t — that’s what voicemail’s for. There’s little more awkward than being at a meal and having someone at the table take a call and chat away while you sit there staring at your salad.

2D instead of 3D? I’ll go one further: If it’s released in 3D, don’t go see it. Wait until it hits HBO. At least, that’s my preference, because a) I don’t like 3D, b) I don’t care for most of the movies released in 3D, and c) I’m cheap.

And using gadgets as tools, well, I already do that. The economy broke me of the idea of buying gadgets because they’re cool. Anything I get has to have a specific use that I NEED to accomplish. That’s why I didn’t rush out to get an Apple TV (or Roku, or Boxee, or Google-Logitech thing); I already spend too much on TV with fewer hours than ever to watch it. I’m still using a first generation iPod Touch and an overheating brick of a Windows Mobile phone because they still do what I need them to do, although the phone’s probably gonna have to go in the next month or two. iPad? Yeah, well, that’ll have to wait; I COULD use it when I cover conventions, but my laptop does that already.

I don’t think that technology is in and of itself a bad thing, but I can understand the impulse to disconnect once in a while. If I were to do an anti-tech resolution, it would be to find more time to walk away from the computer, from the TV, from the phone and iPod and anything else and just decompress. That’s hard when your jobs involve the Internet — maybe impossible at this stage — but it would be nice to just get off the grid for even a few hours at a time. I can dream, anyway.

Do you think you need to cut back on tech? How would you do it? Say it in the comments….
HT: Washington Post

Image: public domain

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Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    Well, coming from a guy who’s typing this comment at 6:44 am, after being on the internet since 11:00pm, Yes. I need to disconnect a bit.