“You are not the boss of me:” Talking Back to The Technologies In Our Lives
There’s a time in the lives of young children when they toss their heads, place their hands on their hips, jut out their little chins, and announce, “You are not the boss of me.” It usually happens when a parent is trying to get out the door, or wants the toys in the living room put anywhere but in the middle of the floor before the realtor comes to show the house.
It’s not fun to be the parent on that day. But more and more, I feel like anyone who uses any kind of technology needs to take a lesson from a five year-old:
Technology is not the boss of you.
I’m tired of hearing how people are being buried in information, ruled by their phones, undone by the internet. I’m tired of hearing how people are the victims of the technology they are choosing to use.
What’s provoked this commentary? One email last week, from a tech savvy friend, put me over the edge. I threw an off-the-cuff question about technology and education into an email and his response knocked me off my chair. It read, in part, “I think digital technologies flood us with too much information and accelerate poor communication….”
I almost asked if he was kidding. Why?
Because information does not hunt you down and force itself into your brain.
Your phone does not fly into your pocket as you leave the house; you put it there. You decide to answer it when it rings. You look at a text as soon as you hear the little bell ring that announces it’s arrived. You phone does not do anything that you do not tell it to do.
The World Wide Web, aka the internet, does not turn itself on; it does not summon you to your computer or tie you to your chair.
Digital technologies do only what we tell them to do.
Digital technologies do only what we allow them to do.
If you have found yourself feeling overwhelmed with information, online obligations, social media drama, take a breath.
Make a decision to step back and assess how you use your technologies. I had a chance to do this after a concussion knocked me off my computer for almost two months and learned a lot from the experience. Some interestingquestions to ponder:
What does your use of technologies contribute to your life? What does your use take away?
Do you have your phone set to notify you whenever an email or text arrives? Why?
Do you check messages when you are sharing a meal with others? Do you answer the phone? Why?
If you’ve seen your reading decrease over time, is it because you opt to scroll through online newspapers or Facebook or Instagram when you could be reading (ebook or otherwise)?
When was the last time you set your phone on “Do Not Disturb”? Better yet, when was the last time you left the house without your phone? What was that like?
Don’t you dare blame the tool for the way you use it.
Look your technology square in the eye and repeat after me:
You are not the boss of me.
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