Detach from Technology

March 29, 2005  

Technology can be a wonderful boon to man-kind. But sometimes we abuse it in ways that prevent us from really participating in life. I recently bought a BlackBerry. My original thinking was that this would free me from my computer and allow me to stay connected. Yes, it allows me to stay connected electronically, but it has me be disconnected from what I should really be doing…being present.

I was recently having lunch with someone. My BlackBerry was sitting on the table with the ringer off. But based on the color of a flashing LED, I could tell if I had any new emails. I was waiting to hear from an editor I was working with, so I was constantly glancing at the flashing light to see if it turned red. I received an email every 15 minutes from someone — either a real person or spam. I did not receive the email I was so eager to get until hours later. In the meantime, I was completely detached from the person I was having lunch with. Staying connected is different than being connected.

Some of the best ideas and opportunities pop up when you least expect them. “Becoming a people magnet” is a critical aspect of Goal-Free Living. But if your ears are plugged with your iPod, and your eyes are glued to your BlackBerry, how can you really connect with your environment and other people?

My favorite piece of technology that enables Goal-Free Living is my Tivo. I no longer worry about missing my favorite show (there aren’t many). This frees me up to connect with the real world regardless of the network TV schedule. And, when I do decide to watch television, I know I will be watching something of interest rather than just scanning the channels mindlessly. Plus I can save time by skipping the commercials. Of course, the (not so) hidden downside of Tivo is the possibility of watching more TV. But we would never let that happen. Right?