Monday, January 12, 2015

On Technology

I have such a complicated relationship with technology. In many ways, I am a Luddite. Zach still doesn't have a cell phone and I am known to go days without charging mine. Ask anyone who texts me and they will tell you I am unlikely to text back. And yet I love what technology does for our creative communities. I love that I can read (and write) blog posts, and Pin, and Skype with my mom and dad all the way in California, and that technology helps our world feel so much more connected. 

But sometimes it feels like technology makes us feel so much less connected, doesn't it? 

I experienced that while traveling this weekend. Due to weather, I missed my connection and had a few hours to kill in the airport. The restaurant I had breakfast at had two iPads installed at every table, and those iPads were used for every part of my dining experience- ordering, paying (I swiped my own credit card at my table), sending myself a receipt via email, and staying up-to-date about my flight status.

There were some things about this that were awesome. I got to give my preference for half-and-half in my coffee instead of milk. I don't have to worry about not losing my receipt for my expense report for work. I wasn't forced to chit-chat with my server.


I couldn't help but feel like all this convenience came at a cost, and one that I'm not sure I am completely comfortable with. Here's the thing- the iPads were positioned in such a way that if I had been having breakfast with Zach, it would have been difficult to see over them to have a conversation. And if the boys had been there, the iPads would have been impossibly tempting; it would have been tantrum-inducing for us to try to enforce our "no screens at the table" family rule. And as I looked around, it was clear that the iPads were contributing to an overly hushed quality among the diners, where people weren't talking to each other or even the servers. In some ways, it felt like the technology was intruding on the dining experience. And the even sadder fact was that the restaurant-supplied iPads clearly had no impact on whether or not diners were still accessing their own technology devices; most of the other diners, even those with traveling companions, were also scrolling through their own phones or devices. 

What are your thoughts on all the ways technology is creeping into our lives? Are you an early adopter, with your emails pinging in on your watch? Or have you rejected technology completely? I like to think that we are pretty balanced, but I struggle with what that balance looks like. I want the boys to be exposed to and enjoy what technology can do for us. I love watching Tate ask Zach to pull up Google Earth. At the same time, I want them to know how to linger leisurely over a cup of coffee if you miss your flight, reading a good book or having an unexpected conversation with your friend or waiter. How do you strike this balance in your life and family? Any tips?

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