February 7, 2008


I thought it would be good to write today about obsessive multi-tasking and resulting multi-tasking withdrawal, but then I was sold on it when I read this quote by Hobbes the Tiger (from Calvin and Hobbes fame), "All this modern technology just makes people try to do everything at once." Well said Hobbes.

I think maybe we love technology too much. What used to be silent car rides are now punctuated with intermittent text messages and phone calls. What used to be quiet reflective moments in the living room now have commercial breaks and sitcoms running through them. What about nice hikes in the woods? What about long conversations with friends without cellphones? What about when we took our phones off the hook and that meant no one could get to us?

I like turning the radio off in my car, not answering my cellphone when it rings and talking with my friends and not apologizing every ten minutes because "I had to take that call." I like watching a movie, or reading a book, or taking a hike and not stopping to attend to something. I like long, meaningful conversations that I planned on and made time for. I like using technology and not feeling like technology is using me.

Maybe it's moderation that counts. I listen to the radio, and I definitely call people back. I sometimes take a phone call if I think it's really important, and I will pause a movie if I need to. I also don't freak out if a meaningful conversation is punctuated with text messages and phone calls. But I try to think about things and be responsible with the technology that I have. The computer is not more important than my little brother, and most phone calls are not more important than a good conversation with Jonathan. The song on the radio isn't better than a beautiful drive with the windows down and a walk on the side of a mountain is usually better than a television show. Instead of just being on the receiving end of a thousand electronic signals, I would rather be on the giving end of a few meaningful words.

So if I don't answer your phone call, or respond quickly to your text message, or if I haven't seen that television show, or made that upgrade to my whatever-I-have, it might be because I was doing something more important. I would expect the same from you and I think we're both the better for it. Plus, when I do talk to you on the phone, or respond to your message, or watch that show or make that upgrade, you will know that I'm there one-hundred percent. I think that's saying something.