I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s when there were no computers, PDAs, and cell phones. There were no microwaves, no DVDs, and no MP3 players and there were only about 7 good stations on TV. We didn’t stay home playing video games all day because there were no video games to talk about back then. Instead, we play outside, talk to our friends on the phone, and listen to music.
I was telling this to my two children the other day and they sat there in awe when they found this concept difficult to understand. I suspect I did the same as a child when my own parents told me about their childhood and what the world was like.
Today they tell us that technology is here to make our lives easier. The microwave helps us cook food faster. The Internet helps us get information faster and allows us to stay connected with friends, family, and business partners. We have more television stations to give us more options, we have cell phones so we can stay in touch with each other, and we have laptops so we can access the Internet anywhere in the world.
Ok … let’s look at that last paragraph again.
From where I am sitting, it seems that all of our sophisticated modern technology has done the opposite … it has made our lives more insane! It has given us less time instead of more.
If you are in your twenties and thirties, think about your parents’ childhood and what life was like back then. If you’re forty or older (like me … sigh), think about your own childhood. What happened to everyone when office hours were over? What happened when people left work and went home?
What did you do?
They had time to think and reflect and do something that very few of us do in the world today … they relaxed!
When I was little, we didn’t have cell phones or laptops, so we relaxed, went out to dinner, went for a walk, watched TV, listened to music, and read a book. We turned our minds off for a while and allowed it to reboot.
Modern technology has taken this away from us. Instead of resting when we get home from work, we work on our laptops and constantly check our PDAs. We take our cell phones and answer them wherever we are … in restaurants, airplanes, cinemas, soccer fields, in our car … everywhere!
When exactly do we rest and allow our minds to shut down for a bit?
Modern technology has made things more difficult. He has unleashed a monster called stress that is making our world sick and tired. It distracts us. It owns us!
Have you seen the Terminator movies? In which machines rule the earth? Guess what? Machines rule our land. Not in quite as disgusting a way as the movie, but they rule the land nonetheless. Technological rules.
Stress is a nasty thing that causes some even nastier illnesses, and there are no antibiotics you can take to ease it. Stress kills and there is only one cure for it.
You need to rest.
Ron and I recently went to Disneyworld in Florida with our boys. We took our cell phones and laptop because we wanted to check our email and voicemail while we were there. However, for some strange reason, most cell phones stayed in the room because we kept forgetting to bring them and we didn’t even turn on the laptop. Before we knew it, we spent almost an entire week without checking any of our messages. I checked them in about the middle of the week and returned a few calls, but for the most part everything was kept idle.
Is the world over? Did we lose our company? Did the customers leave?
We came home with a fresh mind and returned calls, answered emails, and life went on. We were tired of course (have you ever done four theme parks in four days?) But nothing happened. Life as we know it is not over! Instead, we were able to focus on the job at hand because we were refreshed and relaxed.
Technology accelerates our ability to do things. We can do research faster, cook faster, and get in touch with other people faster. However, it also makes us feel the need to stay in touch all the time! We feel like we have to check our email at 10:00 pm at night, we have to answer that phone at dinner, and we have to check our PDA every hour no matter where we are.
When do you rest and turn off your mind?
I understand that everyone wants to move on. I totally understand it. However, to move forward, from time to time you have to take a few steps back to get a better view of where you want to go.
So what can we do?
We can turn off the computer after dinner and not turn it on again until morning. We can turn off our cell phone from time to time and let voicemail answer it. Can we take a walk. We can go on vacation without the laptop. We can even go on vacation and just check our voicemail once or twice! The world will not stop! People might think that he has been kidnapped, but so what? You will get in touch with them again.
If you don’t rest and let your body and brain reboot, your body will break down. In the end, technology will deprive you of the true quality of life because you will be sick and you will not be able to do what you want to do.
So here is my challenge …
I challenge each and every one of you reading this article to lose your cell phone for a day or two and see what happens. I challenge you to turn off your computer around 6pm at night and not turn it back on under any circumstances until the next morning for a week. Then look what happens!
Everyone tells you that you need to eat right and get plenty of exercise. Totally true! However, there is an even more important third key to life … you need to rest!
So turn off your mind for a while. Listen to some music. Read a book. Talk to your children. Shopping. Go to a comedy show and laugh.
Stop ignoring what your body tells you! I know he’s been urging you to slow down and breathe. Listen to it. He knows what he does.
Now let’s see … I’m writing an article on the evils of technology on my computer, my phone rings next to me, and an email just came through.
Hmmm … I guess it’s time to take a break.