Posted in Thoughts on Technology

My Love/Hate Relationship With the Digital Life

iStock_000020654306_SmallSometimes the digital world just doesn’t work for me. The damn remote with its sleek face has created nostalgia for a past that was full of easy to manipulate buttons and knobs. A knob is a deliberate turn. Click. It’s either on or off. A touch screen is fraught with the danger of accidently brushing over something that you don’t want to happen. “No, wait, I didn’t want the DVD player. No, not that, I just wanted cable news. How did I get into Netflix?” All punctuated by a deep exasperated groan.

 Addiction Weary: I’m an addict. I am addicted to 24/7 digital accessibility. In the good old days, the first thing that I used to do in the morning was to read the newspaper and have a cup of tea. The last thing I did before bed was to read a few chapters in a book. Now I am addicted to checking email, texts, Instagram and the dreaded energy suck, Facebook. Even when I don’t post on social media, I feel like a troll, looking into so many lives– a voyeuristic view of other humans–the new millennium version of a nosy neighbor looking out the kitchen window in case the Smiths start fighting again.

The Longing for Human Touch: I liked the days when I called family on the phone, or they called me. I loved when my great niece Nancy Ann would visit from college because there was no Facebook yet, because we didn’t have Internet/email. We met. And I cherish the memories of those visits when we sat face to face on the couch, our shoes off and our feet tucked under us, sharing the dreams and the plans for our lives. Now I have to be content with a “like” or a comment on Facebook which will never be as satisfying as being able to look into her eyes.

Technology Is Eating My Soul: Even with the best of intentions, I can’t seem to ignore my devices for terribly long. I never go anywhere without a phone and a couple of days ago, I was in the middle of the woods when my phone chimed, as sweet little Zen like chime, and I actually pulled it out of my pocket to see who was texting me. Whether I answered the text in that moment or two hours later was not going to impact my life in any way. Note to self: if your going to bring your phone on your hikes (good idea if you’re hiking alone) then turn the ringer off!

 What I Can Live Without: I can live without social media for stretches of time. I am hard pressed to believe that anyone really cares about what I ate for dinner last night. And while photos, replete with captions about hubby, dog and self make me feel like I have a zillion friends, all thrilled with the fact that I just climbed to the top of Mt. Ashland; I notice that articles and blogs over which I have labored get little attention. It takes too much time to read, and isn’t that a sad commentary on the state of things?

Someone reading what I’ve written is a thousand times more important to me than someone glancing at my picture and “liking” it. It’s just that one gets you validated and one gets you ignored. I feel like we all go on autopilot when we’re on social media. We become zombies, seduced by cute, light and irrelevant — the kind of emotionalism that makes advertisers lick their lips and come in for the kill.

I Am So Over Marketing Gurus: Do I really need to promote my self as much as the marketing gurus say, or do I just have to keep writing and keep working at getting better? Will 3,000 “likes” make me a better writer? Probably not. And yet the push for “create content” is the mantra of so many like myself. I don’t just want to create content, I want to write about stuff I actually care about. And with that comes some thoughtfulness, which takes time.

Bah, Humbug?: There are times when I enjoy social media, but I know that it’s not a substitute for the face-to-face connection that I long for in my relationships. There are times, when I appreciate the convenience of having a phone I can carry around with me. Still, constant access to a phone often pulls me away from interactions with live human beings, because I tend to feel important, or maybe I get some kind of chemical surge when I check my phone to see who is trying to reach me.

But I Love My Computer: Every day, I get up and write, so everyday I’m grateful to have a laptop that allows me to type faster, spell check, cut and paste, save drafts and send pages electronically. I’ve never felt a longing for the loud, enormous Correcting Selectric IBM that was once the tool of my craft.

It’s a love/ hate relationship that I have with technology and I don’t think I am alone in this. If you know me and are reading this, in spite of being connected digitally, if you live in my town, just come on by and let’s hang out like we used to before we relied so much on technology to do for us, that which is innate in our own hearts — connect.

What is your relationship to technology? Love it? Hate it? Please share with me in the comments section.

 

 

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

15 thoughts on “My Love/Hate Relationship With the Digital Life

  1. I very much agree. I am better about avoiding the social media drains that you mention, and I long resisted having a cell phone. (I actually have one now because someone gave me one, more to assist her. So I have it for emergencies, but it doesn’t dominate my life. I’m really good at ignoring it…)

    One of the things I always objected to about Facebook, et. al. is that a friend wouldn’t take time to talk to me – they just typed something generic and sent it out for everyone to come read about them. I miss the days when a friend mailed me a long letter, and the excitement of sitting down to see what they were saying to ME, not to the world. So much of that personal interaction has been lost, as you noted.

    Technology can be great (computers to write on, or do other stuff), but it also is a ball and chain in so many ways. I’ll keep on resisting the siren call to sit in its glow hour after hour.

  2. Oh yes! I so agree with this, and yet I loved that even though we’ve never met you sent me a birthday wish yesterday. Along with about 85 friends that Facebook allows me to keep up with, you made me smile. I do wonder whether technology that allows grandparents to see grandchildren on FaceTime and Skype is a way of connecting that is better than the long distance call. Or were the twice a year visits when real photographs were taken and hugs exchanged a better thing?

    Ideally, we have both the coffee or a glass of wine Wednesday friends and those who text or Facebook to us. I’m leaning toward thinking that it may help with social isolation for those that cannot, or will not, get out. But, is a text friendship and a feet up on the coffee table together really the same?
    I’m sitting in my garden with dirty fingernails from planting tulip bulbs musing about this, so I’m thinking I’m just too connected!
    Keep making us think about this, Stephanie, and all the other issues that make us human! I couldn’t “like” your writing more. (Virtual hug)!

    1. If we knew all of our FB friends in person, could we keep up? Without these little connections, would my life be a little less colorful for people I had never met? It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? Virtual friends like you –well, I still wish there was the time and place for a glass of cold tea and a face to face about what to put in the garden next year. Yet, you make good points about how it would be difficult to choose one way of connecting over another. I’d want to see the grandkids on Skye and I’d want those twice a year visits too. Thanks for stopping by, for commenting and for making my day wit a “like.” You got me to thinking about when to plant the bulbs sitting in my garage. Virtual hugs right back at ya!

  3. I hear you. I feel tethered to a screen. So many tasks demand it now, whether it be writing, communicating, reading, or some other work. When we do finally disconnect it feels wonderful, but at the same time we’re wondering about what’s waiting for us in our inbox.

    But I still read my paper and drink my tea before I do much else in the morning. Might be my favorite time of day. 😊

    1. There’s something to be said for getting newsprint on your hands from the morning paper, and it is a good way to start the day, isn’t it? Now if I could just stop thinking about who emailed . . . 😉 Thanks for coming by, Carrie.

  4. This is why I don’t have a ‘smartphone’. I have a cell, but it’s an old one, not a mini computer. I have the capacity to be a full blown addict to the internet, but my old fashioned cell makes sure that I get away from it all, for many hours of the day. Love to you , Stephers- I only wish that I could hop on over for a cuppa, but that would be a big hop!

  5. I identify with all your points and struggle with my love/hate relationship with the digital world also. Just recently I had an interesting conversation (in person) with a friend who is a librarian by trade, well read, bi-lingual and a world traveler. He talked about how communication between human beings relies a great deal on visual cues, and how “talking” through devices or by Facebook is so different. This may change human communication in ways not yet obvious, but I suspect that much of the negativity and viciousness that passes for communication on-line may be part of it.

    1. So well put, Martha! It is the “sensual” of a conversation, i.e. things like facial expressions, the feeling tone or vibration of the space, body language, that when no longer present does change human communication. And like you, I fear, not be for the better. Thank you for an insightful and thoughtful comment.

  6. Stephanie…it’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t kind of thing. I’ve given up trying to fight it but one of my new goals when I retire in December is to keep the phone in another room at night. According to Ariana Huffington in her new book on sleep, it’s the only way to truly shut down at night. I’ll see how I do with that then maybe move on to some larger commitment.

  7. It is such an easy fix, really. Unsubscribe from Facebook. Being a nonconformist, I refused to join when everyone else did and now I’m glad I stuck to my resolve. The friends who are truly friends still phone me or come by for a visit. Or at the least send me an email. I have few friends but they are true friends. I have decided email is as high tech as I’m going to get and I’m sticking to it just to be ornery. I refuse to be corralled with all those who think every new invention must be better than the last. We don’t have TV because I refuse to be brainwashed by commercials every few minutes in exchange for watching what everyone else is watching. We don’t have a cell phone because our land line works just fine and has for over 40 years. Why would we change it? We watch great movies on Knowledge Network on the computer and still mostly talk about real life instead of make believe. Life is too short to be like everyone else, talking about what everyone is talking about, parroting everyone else’s opinions and everyone else’s news. Be an original, stick to what you believe is best for you, walk through the woods without interruption and learn what ageless trees can teach you about what is and what is not necessary to live a good long life. Then get on with living it.

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