My work life and much of my personal life revolves around technology. The suggestion to step away from it occasionally is in part a response to what I’ve seen this week at South by Southwest Interactive.
The thought first came when I walked into my session Thursday and saw a roomful of people with heads buried in laptops, tablets and smart phones, rarely looking up at the panel of speakers in front of them. I kind of chuckled inside when I saw it and just stared a while at the crowd wondering if I had just walked into geek heaven or interpersonal hell.
The more pervasive indicator of the need is evident when you simply walk between sessions, down the sidewalk, go up or down escalators or stand in line somewhere. Most heads in those scenarios are bowed in worshipful awe toward the device in their hands, ignoring the 20,000+ people around them.
While I didn’t attend it, I wonder what the response was today to the session titled “Is Technology Making Our Lives Richer or Poorer.” I’ll have to look up what people said about it on Twitter. The subject also came up when an interviewer asked this afternoon’s keynote speaker whether we are losing something significant by walking around with heads buried in electronics.
It was during that keynote that I decided to stop the live tweeting for once and just experience the discussion – quite the contrast to the day’s first session which kept me constantly busy tweeting. In the keynote, my laptop was on the floor and my eyes were on the speakers. It was a very good change of pace.
I am grateful for my coworkers covering for me back at the office this week – a luxury I have not enjoyed for years – so that I don’t have to spend my evenings working, but can instead step away from it for a time.
Technology is generally good and helpful. It extends our capacity in many ways. But there are times when we need to put it aside and remind ourselves what it means to be human in real relationships with others.
Leap year lesson #72 is Step away from technology occasionally.