What do you do when you see the dashboard lights? Ignore them? Panic? Pull over right away? Call your mechanic?
The other week we had a doozy of a light pop up- the red silhouette of a person with an airbag on its lap. The message was that the airbag system was malfunctioning. Oy vey.
I am so sick and tired of red signs and symbols. First you get all the red circles on your phone- ding, another text message or email. It is bad enough that the circles are there but in addition to the circle there is the number of unanswered/unopened emails or messages boldly displayed in the middle. Then there is the blinking light on the answering machine. Or the power failure for the stove or the dash board light. Once again reminding you that something is amiss.
I think the red on the dashboard pushed me over the edge. Enough of these sights and sounds. They all seem to taunt me with the idea that I am not keeping up, doing what I need to do and that I am grossly falling behind. I feel like I am back in grade school and there is no possibly way I could keep running much less finish the Presidential Fitness Award. I feel that panic that try as I might, my body isn't processing and doing things quickly enough and there is a pack of fitter, more organized, and better individuals out there.
Just last week my cell phone informed me that I was in danger of running out of storage. I realized, once again that I was not keeping up with my email or photo management.
What is a person to do?
I am ready to take a much needed break from technology. Of course that would greatly affect my writing and my profession. Many people have jobs where they have to use technology. There are few options. Technology is wonderful and in some ways, can make life easier and safer.
I was discussing this frustration with my family the other night over dinner. My ever practical son looked at me and wondered what was the big deal. Why couldn't I just see technology as a tool and so then choose when I wanted to use it?
Touche. Words that I have said and words that are true but just forgotten when one gets caught up with technology. I don't have to respond or act right away (unless that dashboard light is screaming that you stop, get out of the car and walk away). I need to remember that I am in charge of the technology, not the other way around. By definition a tool is a "means to an end" and "may apply to anything necessary to perform a task".
My nephew has an interesting blog. Click here to read it. Over the past week or so, he has had some postings about social media- pros and cons. I liked his guest writer's opinion about it- looking at technology in the context of addiction, what is feasible and what is not.
I am going to try and be intentional (that word that I love) in being the one in control of technology rather than the other way around. Here are some of my ideas:
- I am trying to stick to a schedule of only checking email a couple of times a day.
- When I do look at emails I will try to respond immediately- either answer it then or delete it. Similar to the old management idea of only touching a piece of mail once- answer, file it or get rid of it.
- I will take some time each week to organize my electronic files: move pictures to folders; save (in a folder labeled so I can find) or delete documents.
- I need to put my phone away (nearby but not right on my desk) so that I am not distracted checking messages when I need to be concentrating on work. This will be a little tricky as I feel that my family needs to get hold of me. In reality, if there is a little delay it will be okay.
- At a certain point each day I need to put the technology down and pick up some low tech- a book, magazine, or paper.
- Each week I will try and have a technology sabbath. It might just have to be a part of a day rather than a whole day but still a time when I am away from the computer and cell phone. Generally I feel better when I counterbalance the high tech with the low tech of being outdoors.
What about you? Are you bothered by all the blinks, dings, flashing lights and messages of modern devices? Do you find that any type of red marker gets you anxious? How do you handle it? What strategies do you employ to keep the technology beast at bay? Do they work?