Sunday, August 9, 2015

Are we TOO connected?





Coming from a guy who loves technology and happens to work in the IT industry, you may be surprised to hear me say that I think technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Or, if you gave it a little thought, you might find that you completely agree with me. If it weren't for the fact that I have my work and personal life so intertwined in the digital world, I would almost consider one of those "cut the cord" campaigns where you unplug the televisions, phones and computers for a month to see how life is without it.


I actually did a very mild trial version of that this weekend. (Obviously it only lasted until Sunday afternoon since I'm now watching a Netflix movie while typing a blog post on the computer that I will soon be uploading to my Blogger account and sharing across multiple social media accounts and my website.)


My dad was in town for a quick visit and I decided not to let my work and/or personal digital alerts take me away from that. The trial run actually started out pretty good. I was limiting myself to pretty much using my phone merely as a camera as we bopped around town letting the girls have fun with Grandpa. I slipped once when I posted one of those photos to Facebook, but I caught myself on future urges. (That part wasn't so bad since I don't really post to Facebook all that much.)


I gave myself a little bit of leniency when it came to emails. As I get both work and personal emails on my phone (as well as alerts from multiple accounts), I "allowed" myself to quickly screen the messages (a few times per day) to reply to the urgent messages only, save important, but not urgent messages for later and delete the junk to save myself filtering 1000 messages on Sunday night.


Although I am reassured that I am not completely addicted to my technology, I just don't see myself getting too far away from it for a long period of time. It really is just TOO convenient to have everything and anything at my fingertips. This convenience not only applies to my personal life and contact with friends and things I'm interested in, but it also applies to my professional life. (By that I mean my job - not my blog. You all know I'm far from being a professional blogger.)


I like the way technology affords me the ability to work from home on occasion. Although the expectation is that I work primarily from within our physical office on a daily basis, I do have the option to work from home as needed.


As a father, I know that kids love to share. I also know that this sharing is limited to the latest illness floating around the daycare and/or school....and they will share these viruses and bugs with everyone humanly possible. I have also learned that it's a toss-up as to whether it will be one of the kids, my wife, or myself that will end up sick at home. That's where my excitement of working from home comes into play.

I love that I can stay productive and not fall behind on work (and still get paid) while staying home when illness strikes our home....whether for me or my girls. I even found the perfect inversely proportionate equation that works for me. Here's how I would explain it in a highly complex series of mathematical equations:

1. GIRL(S) VERY SICK + STUCK IN BED ALL DAY = PRODUCTIVE WORK FROM HOME
2. GIRL(S) CONTAGIOUS (BUT FINE) + LOTS OF ENERGY = NO WORK DONE
3. I'M SICK/CONTAGIOUS + ROUTINELY VISITING BATHROOM = CANNOT COMPUTE
(*** My own illness is completely determined by my level of sickness and whether or not I can even properly spell my own name or determine what day of the week it is. It's a total toss-up. ***)

Being able to work from home to help care for one (or more) of my sick children is an obvious convenience in my book. It would be nice to take that to the next level and work completely from home. I am excited that my current 8-5/M-F work schedule allows me to spend more time with my family than I was able to for most of the previous years, but imagine if I could truly set my own schedule... Afternoon soccer game? No problem. Want to take the afternoon off to spend it with the kids and do your work later that evening? No problem. I'll keep dreaming, but I really don't think I'm too far from that now.

The problem I would see with that though would be an intensified version of the trial run I just had this weekend. It's (almost like) an addiction to feel compelled to respond to work related inquiries as you receive them regardless of whether you're "on or off the clock." If you don't have a set work schedule, how do you know when work stops and family time begins? (I'm sure I would just make an altered work schedule to follow....but I'm typing through my thoughts as they occurred to me.)

I truly believe the benefits of technology far outweigh the drawbacks....if I can even call them that. It really comes down to the user knowing how to set their own guidelines and be responsible with their own time management. For me to say technology can be a curse would be like blaming cows for my extra weight. They didn't make me eat those hamburgers - they only helped provide them.

So to wrap this up.... I really do love technology. It's not a curse, but I think it can become an addiction. (I think the addiction is completely the user's fault - not the technology.) Although we may be a little too "addicted" to our technology, I don't think we're too "connected" as the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Before long, we ought to see bumper stickers toting a new "Tech Responsibly" slogan. Until next time....