So it was Peter Parker’s Uncle who bestowed upon him the wise words that with great power comes great responsibility. And I can’t help but think of those words with respect to technology. There was a time, not long ago, that when you were away from your house, no one could get in touch with you!!! You would come home and listen to messages that someone left on your answering machine. Often times, a message left on your machine couldn’t be tended to until the next day. Your spouse or friends wouldn’t know where you were until you got back home unless, by chance ,you left them a note on actual paper with these archaic devices called pens.
Things were not instantaneous like they are today. If you were curious about something, you had to look it up in a book and unless you had encyclopedias at home, you probably made a trip to the library to seek the knowledge you desired. And everyone survived. I, as many before me, made it through college without a computer of my own. I called people on landline phones to make plans. And if I got to the bowling alley before my friends, I just sat there and waited for them to arrive. No phone calls were made or texts sent to fill the 3 minutes that I had before they arrived. It is strange to be in a situation where I remember what it was like before something so common to today’s functioning norm had taken off. In a matter of a little more than a decade, we have all become a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs. Our phones are always with us. And the moment they make a buzz or ring or light up, we have them in our eager, little hands, ready to tend to whatever situation awaits us on the other virtual end, because nothing can wait until tomorrow anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my handheld technology. I am grateful for all that it affords me and considering that our livelihood is based on others embracing technology, I fully support the use of today’s modern luxuries, handheld or other. But with this power that fits in the palm of our hands does come great responsibility. I think we have a responsibility to be courteous and considerate of others, to put interaction with a human being before answering the phone in our pocket. (And you would know who was calling you based on the type of vibration in your pocket if you read my weekly tips regularly. Just sayin’) We have a responsibility to be undistracted and look our children in the face when we pick them up from school; to listen to them, uninterrupted, talking about their day. We have a responsibility to those around us to be safe and focused drivers. I’ll admit, that when my phone rings while I’m driving, I am tempted to immediately pick it up and at times I have. There’s NOTHING that can’t wait until you come to a full stop, even if it is at the next red light. We have a responsibility to our families to be present in the moment and remember with our mind’s eye sometimes, a special exchange with a child or the beauty of a drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have a responsibility to ourselves to balance what is possible with what we really want and need. Achieving balance isn’t a new concept. People strive for it every single day. Everyone, everyday, juggles multiple commitments and obligations, deadlines and time constraints, school, work, kids and their activities, groceries, exercise, social engagements, blah, blah, blah. And we all want to balance it all, be the best at all that we have to do, don’t let anyone down. Everyone is busy. So, I encourage everyone to embrace the technology they have at their fingertips to maximize their personal interactions. Use your iPhone to set reminders, make lists, get directions, set up meetings, screen your calls. Sync your calendar with a friend’s calendar so that you know when to meet for your hike together. Use the technology to organize your life, not to be your life. Look away from your screen and into the eyes of your child or your partner. Be present in the moment. Your technology will remember and will remind you to be a certain place at a certain time so that you don’t have to clutter up your mind with those details. Embrace the technology so that you have the freedom to live the best moments, without interruption. Let go of the minutia, pass it off to your iPhone and breathe.