Too Much Tech?

I work with technology all day, yet I still find myself on the iPad in the evenings, watching YouTube videos and checking the news. Sometimes, as I complete another sudoku game or post another Facebook comment, I wonder why I don’t have the gumption to just unplug. I’m going to give it a try. Sort of, anyway.

I don’t think I’ll go so far as attending the summer camp for adults called Camp Grounded. No digital technology allowed! I can understand its appeal, though.

Perhaps I can take the advice of New York Times writer, Nick Bilton, who blogged earlier this year about How to Take a Break from Your Technology. He lists tips such as turning off all smartphone notifications, and establishing “gadget-free zones.” Pretty good ideas, methinks.

And I definitely won’t go extreme like The Verge writer, Paul Miller, who quit the internet for a year and wrote about his experiences. I found the piece fascinating and also weirdly reassuring. Initially Paul reflected on his increased attention span “as [his] head uncluttered.” But about midway through the experiment I was sad to read that he had begun to feel like he “fell out of sync with the flow of life.” At this point in the story I was really rooting for him too.

Because a part of me wants to believe that all the tech I fiddle with every day hasn’t become a necessary part of my daily life. Maybe that’s why I don’t shun friends and family who refuse to use Facebook. It’s their choice. And I’m not too proud to admit that I often feel like I’m wasting time when I’m liking news articles shared by friends or uploading pictures of birds I’ve taken on my morning runs.

But plugging in also makes me feel connected to people I haven’t seen in a long time, or who have similar interests that I would have never discovered without social networking. Plus keeping up to date on tech trends, trying out new apps and exploring websites is an important part of my work. So in a way I’m lucky that my tech tinkering at home overlaps, in a positive way, with my work life. And I do use apps and online tools that help me remember appointments and make lists and manage things. It’s not all bad.

There is a smartphone or tablet in just about every attaché, purse and pocket anymore. And as the popularity and variety of gadgets increase, so does the conversation about how much screen time is too much screen time. I think we all already know the answer. The answer to most of my questions (Like, “how much chocolate is too much chocolate?”) is usually something to do with balance. The answer will be different for each one of us, and we’ll know when we’ve plummeted over the edge. Wish me luck, and I hope you find your tech groove, too.

For more fun quitting tech news, check out these links (which is kind of hilarious since the stuff’s online):

Guest: The Growing Movement to Break Technology Addiction – Seattle Times
Take a Weekly Technology Break – Time (online)
• Larry Rosen’s Blog, Psychology Today (online) – Rewired: The Psychology of Technology

(There’s way more out there too -- but I don’t want to lead you too far afield. And I promise I won't rat you out if you retire to a spare bedroom after Thanksgiving dinner to work a crossword on your iPad. I might just do the same.)

Written by Melanie on November 27, 2013


wired less on November 27, 2013


When I realized I never looked up anymore, I decided to do a one year detox from my iPhone. For anyone that knows me, this is radical. I do look up and have been more connected with my surroundings but its only been a few weeks. Just like any other addict, I know this pink cloud won't last and knee bending withdrawal is just around the corner. Thanks for sharing your experience, strength, and hope.

Anonymous on December 5, 2013


I was posting books I want to read on my Goodreads account and bemoaning the fact that there are so many to read...which is why I need to stay off my dang phone!!!!

Melanie on December 10, 2013


I read both books and magazines on my iPad, but I still count that as non-tech time. Is that cheating? I've become a terrible reader in the recent past, and I think my gadgets are partly to blame.

wired less, you are my hero. I am making a concerted effort to use my phone less (mostly at home), but I don't think I'll ever quit it completely, even for a finite amount of time. Maybe you can let us know how it's going!

Anonymous on December 11, 2013


I'm considering making my bedroom a no-ipad zone. Even when reading a book before bed, it's too easy to switch to the browser and look up a definition or bit of history from something I read which leads to another article which leads to a video which leads, it's 12:30 already?!

Melanie on December 11, 2013


I seriously thought about getting a Kindle Paperwhite for that exact reason! No browser!

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