From His Perspective: Technology Addiction

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Before I let Andrew take the stage, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your thoughtful, detailed and incredibly helpful comments yesterday!  It’s such a help to me in attempting to create something useful, funny, beautiful and cool for you. Many, many thanks. -EG

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I am finally ready to admit it. I have a serious problem with Candy Crush (besides getting to the next level) **note from Erin– he’s on level 323 people. 323!!!  I play it too much. It fills my free time. If not that, then Words With Friends and Angry Birds. Or Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn (not huge on Twitter).  Or emails and texts. If I am not on my computer I am on my phone, kindle or iPad. And in our house of two, I am the least of the offenders. (*cough- bullshit-cough*)

It bothers me that it has come to this. I went to take the dogs for a walk this morning, forgot my phone, and had a quick panic attack. What would I do while they were sniffing! I will get so bored! What if I miss a call or don’t respond to an email right away?

When Erin and I go out to dinner it is painful for us to not be on our phones. So usually we are. And I know we look like douche bags. What couple goes out to dinner and sits there on their respective phones? I have a picture of us in Paris, with her father, sitting down for a drink, both head down in their phone. I took that picture with my phone. *That last part is true, but we aren’t on our phones all dinner, come on now Andrew, we are THAT couple. Or are we?

I can’t watch TV anymore without my phone. What would I do during the commercials. Or boring parts of the movie. What if someone updated their Facebook status and we were watching the same show! At the same time!

I am not trying to be funny when I say it actually scares me. How did I acquire this need for constant entertainment? For instant gratification? What the hell will this develop into? Is this bad? It has to be…right?

Erin and I got in a minor argument over this the other night. She said she couldn’t go a full week without “connecting”. She couldn’t unplug from the Matrix. My argument was that she could and should. That the world won’t end without her input for a week. Even design emergencies can be handled by someone else or put on hold. She doesn’t believe that. And I am a hypocrite because I have the same issues. I can’t remember the last time I went a week without my phone. Can you?

We have done this to ourselves. We have trained everyone around us to expect an answer quickly. And we expect it in return. When you call someone and they don’t answer, you know they see your number. Why aren’t they answering! I know they saw my email or text. Ugh.

Tim Ferris, of The Four-Hour Work Week, suggests purposefully not responding to people right away. He started with waiting until the end of the day. Then the end of the week. An now the end of the month, if at all. Email is the worst time suck we have as a society. It is constantly interrupting us. If something is really that important it will either get figured out or they will call you! Email suggests that it isn’t that important that I need a response right away. If it was an emergency you would call. You wouldn’t email 911 if there was a robber in your house.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology is changing our lives for the better in so many ways. We can do so much more, see so much more, know so much more. But as I have said before, to grow you need to challenge yourself and get uncomfortable. Maybe growth sometimes means digressing every so often.

My challenge to Erin and myself is to unplug. Let’s not get crazy and do it for a week. But maybe at 6:30pm, every night for a week, we unplug. No phone. No computer. Just us, the dogs, a little TV (I realize that is not unplugged, but baby steps people), and some closeness. Too many marriages result in divorce because people “grew apart”. It is because they stopped growing together. It takes effort to grow together and the first step is personal interaction. Technology is fantastic, but it can hinder one-on-one interactions. I think we all need to unplug every once in awhile.

-Andrew

* While I completely agree that we spend WAY too much time on our phones and computers, I validate my constant Instagram, Facebook, blogging, web surfing a.k.a. “research” as WORK, because it is. I can’t possibly go offline for an entire week, my career is online! But I agree that we could seriously use a break to clear my head.  you know, take a walk with my head up, not trying to pick out the perfect filter for an Instagram picture (if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen, right?) I’d happily try 24 hours without using our phones (other than for calls) or computers. Oh man, I’m getting hives just thinking about it.

Have you ever taken a Tech Break?

57 Responses to “From His Perspective: Technology Addiction”

  1. candace says:

    Andrew’s post is valid. my husband and i are the same with our phones. though he truly does mainly work on his (emails – he does not have any social apps). Where i have canceled my facebook page, but am truly hooked on instagram. i love it. i do enjoy texting too. my work emails, do shut off at 5pm, but start early at 6am. at dinner we are not allowed to have our phones (children especially when they are with us). its a work in progress. happy weekned, -

  2. Krysta says:

    Great post! I, like so many others these days, have experienced so much of what you’ve described here. As far as we handle technology and “unplugging” in our home… from the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I made a “no phones at the table” rule. I’ve extended that beyond just eating with my husband and never bring my phone out while dining with others. There is nothing that can’t wait until the end of a meal, and your dining partners should have your full attention.

    Recently, I’ve been noticing just how much time we (my husband and I) spend on iphones and ipads while at home together. Like you, we’re checking emails, looking at fb, browsing the internet while watching tv together. We don’t bring our phones on walks or while playing with our pups. Admittedly, I work in a traditional office setting and don’t need to be checking emails at all times, but I think that even if you’re livelihood is online there is always room for creating boundaries and carving out time that is tech free. Some of the best time for creative thinking are during times or rest!

    We were on vacation last week for the first time in a year and decided to just leave our phones in the hotel room much of the vacation. It was awesome. A nice break from always feeling like we need to be checking something and a refreshing reminder that we don’t need anything to entertain us while we’re spending time together.

  3. [...] Gates the husband of Erin Gates of Elements of Style talks about Technology Additions.  (ps totally [...]

  4. Luzma says:

    Amen, Andrew. Rest is underrated and also this immedeaness makes us forget –ironically– the here and now: we must be there in the cyberspace, responding, being aware of the action and we forget about everyone and everything that is chirping around us. So, amen: let’s unplug a little. I say his to myself too!

  5. Luzma says:

    I lived in the Middle East for 2 years and I refused to get a smartphone. I have to say I felt free, and also lost without google maps telling me where to go! Ha ha ha!!! No immediate Facebook and no 69 emails to read. Overthrew people texted me and called me. It was interesting and liberating. There was less pressure. But I have to say I also missed a lot of things and being able to connect and make new friends easier: whatsapp and iMessage are great when you are out and about trying to meet new people. So now I like to be back to the iPhone, but I (and my husband) also get annoyed at myself when I’m insagramming, like very little detail I find worthy of my camera. I’m always chatting with my mom and my buddies… So I’m in an alternate reality and I miss things from this realm. So I guess one must have self control. Meditation helps.

  6. Christian J says:

    Great post, so true, unfortunately I read it on my phone, while I was out for dinner with people who clearly weren’t entertaining enough for me that I had to peruse a blog, while I pretended that I was still engaged in the conversation, while I alternated texting my other friends if they were doing anything more exciting, only so I could join them to repeat the whole process over again…way to go Steve Jobs!