The following is written for those who have the privilege of owning a smartphone or tablet. I recognize that this is a privileged group and does not apply to everyone.
The convenience that technology provides is remarkable. I was editing an excel spreadsheet, tracking flights of several individuals, responding to emails for work, and communicating via text messages with multiple individuals in different time zones all while standing in line to board an aircraft – all this by using this rectangular piece of machinery called the iphone. What used to take me hours to do (go home, turn on my desktop, search multiple websites on the internet, dial long distance, etc.) took all of 15 minutes.
As I have written about previously, the drawback of having technological convenience is that delaying gratification, waiting for something or someone, is nearly intolerable. Can you imagine waiting in line for 10 minutes without checking your phone? Can you imagine shopping in a store without researching to see whether that same item is priced differently at a competing retailer?
We expect to acquire what we want or need almost immediately. We multitask constantly, and as such, we are constantly in task. We are managing our work, social, familial, romantic, an/or personal responsibilities simultaneously and we are the most productive we have ever been. But why is it that we are still feeling like we are always behind? And maybe even more so that before smartphones?
Given that more and more people are operating in such a manner (that is, working constantly), it is difficult to feel that loose ends are ever tied. There is always an unanswered voice mail, email or text message. There is always something we need to be doing and someone that is waiting for us to do something. As productive as we are with our iLives, what suffers is our ability to engage in true leisure. This is why retreat centers are such a lucrative business– they provide a purpose, place, and structure for people to disconnect, get off the grid, and focus on the self. These retreat centers enable us to unplug and be with the “I” in our lives.
The nature of our world today is fast paced and to succeed we must learn to keep up. Yet we must stop once in a while and reflect on the momentum of our lives. Perhaps we need unplug more often, and recognize that all the technological upkeep is wreaking havoc on our bodies and our minds. Put the devices away and live life a few days a month without using technology. Experience the difference.