If you’ve known me for any stretch of time you’ve inevitably heard me rant that technology is not the boss of you.
I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that further strengthened my less-than-positive feelings about our over-reliance and fixation on technology being the end-all, be-all answer to what ails us.
It happened as I was listening to a book on tape during my commute from the city back home to the mountains. I was listening to a book about spirituality when the narrator shared the following wisdom:
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”
I’d heard this quote by Lao Tzu many times before. For some reason, on this day it struck me in a new way. I reworded it like this:
“Technology is wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” Angie Mattson Stegall
Think about it: using technology can be wonderful. There are real gains to be had in ease, efficiency, and effectiveness if we’re in control of it.
The downsides of becoming a servant to technology, though, are tremendous.
- Kids who can’t focus, play, read, or engage with their own imaginations because they are so used to the “rewards” of playing and interacting with devices.
- Adults who don’t communicate with another over dinner, driveways, or desks because their eyeballs (and minds) are glued to their devices.
- Folks who are completely addicted to online porn, gaming, or gambling. This includes people who are far more invested in social media drama or their “Second Life” than their real lives.
- Anyone who texts and drives. And a lot of people who talk on the phone and drive. A potentially deadly multi-tasking sh*t storm.
- People who, as soon as their alarms go off, grab their smartphones or tablets to check email and social media instead of embracing their partner, spouse, kids, pets, or themselves.
- Everyone who grabs for their devices when they hear anyone else’s devices beep, bing, ring, or vibrate. That hit of dopamine in our brains feels goooooooood, doesn’t it? What a reward!
Truthfully, all this makes me desperately sad.
It’s why I harp on it. And why I’ve chosen NOT to focus on technology solutions in my business.
I think who we are and how we are being is far more important.
In fact, Nelson and I are exploring creating an off-the-grid retreat where people (YOU) can visit and disconnect from your devices. A place to make some room to rest, relax, write, and dream. Come sit around a campfire with us and talk about your big ideas. Go hiking or fishing or horseback riding with us. Walk a labyrinth as a moving meditation. Purposefully take time to unwind, unplug, and recharge. It’s a big vision for sure, but one that is becoming clearer (and we hope) closer to reality each day. We’ll hope you’ll come stay for a night, a weekend or longer.
In the meantime, I’m interested in how you manage technology use in your world. Are you a servant to your technology or have you mastered the art of controlling it in your life?
Share your examples and stories with me, please!
P.S. Playwright Max Frisch said, “Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn’t have to experience it.” Think about that deeply for a couple of minutes. How is technology keeping you from really experiencing life and genuinely interacting with the people right in front of you?