In Monday’s 6 Ways to Tame the Tech Shrew, we explored the dark side of technology: the time we spend — or, worse, squander — mindlessly flitting from one screen to another, one device to another, one moment to another. The topic touched a nerve with readers, so I thought it deserved some follow-through.
In one of the comments, The Daily Blague‘s RJ Keefe threw down this gauntlet:
“How about making a list of things that you like to do that don’t involve a phone or a computer, and another list of non-computer activities that a computer can enhance. (Locate the center of your life away from the Internet.)”
Let’s try it! Here’s mine:
ACTIVITIES I LOVE — TECHNOLOGY-FREE
- Playing the piano.
- Reading. Real books, magazines, newspapers.
- Physical exercise: walk/hike, run, cycle, dance.
- Go out: movies, dancing, museum, live music, restaurants, events.
- Bird watch.
ACTIVITIES I LOVE — TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED
- Photography and video: shoot and edit.
- Art: photograph and make.
- Talking: Skype, Jabber, iChat, Google Hangouts.
I thought this list up a few days ago, and since then spent a fairly tech-free few days. I visited the Metropolitan Museum with my sister. We spent hours looking at and discussing the exhibits, and had absorbing conversation at lunch about our family tree, both technology-free. But technology enhanced a short photo-shoot in the great hall (not sure that’s what it’s called, but it had spectacular arches, it was a hall, and it was great).
Something my sister said at lunch has stayed with me. Compared to the lives of our ancestors, our lives have been decidedly less creative overall. People used to be creative as a part of everyday living: cooking, farming and gardening, sewing, blacksmithing, designing, reading and writing, conversing, solving problems, socializing. It was hard work, but that work sprang from people’s creative centers.
Surprisingly, she asserted that, now, technology and computers have given people the mediums to be creative once again. We are all writing. We are taking photographs. We are reading and crafting stories. We are creating ourselves, and sharing our stories and pictures and passions, via social media.
What a delightful way of looking at technology! So, once again, without vilifying technology, let’s dole it out like we did the TV of our youths. We don’t have to ban it. We do have to balance it.
Have fun coming up with your own list.