27. Strategic Tech

Good morning and welcome to your twenty-seventh meditation. Few would dispute that we are in a technological age. Newer and faster and more effective technologies are introducing themselves into every nook and cranny of our lives, assisting us with every imaginable task ranging from the banal to the most specialized and professional. They afford us convenience, an improved quality of life, and, perhaps most importantly, time… right? There’s no doubt that most tasks are made easier with the help of an app, that information is exponentially more accessible, and communication is incomparably faster than ever. But it is important to ask ourselves: are our lives better? Are we happier? Do we truly feel as though we have more time? Perhaps for some the answer is “yes”, without hesitation. For many others, however, it might not be so obvious. And still others may have serious doubts. How can this be? Why, if all of the various technologies we incorporate into our everyday lives were expressly designed to help us, don’t we feel helped? How is it possible that, with such a variety of aides to our happiness, we can feel less happy; with so many time-saving tools we can feel we have less time? The first answer to these questions is a somewhat gloomy one, but very important to acknowledge: these technologies are not made expressly for our benefit. Rather they are made by companies with their own motives that are intended to serve them. Of course this does not preclude the possibility of those same technologies being helpful to us. However it is integral that we exercise our discretion and decide for ourselves to what extent is a technology useful to us, and to what extent are we being used by a technology. This is the second answer to the question of how it’s possible that technologies can actually negatively impact our lives: how we use them, and how we limit, or fail to limit, that use. For example, no one needs to be told that email and text message are much faster modes of communication than sending letters by post. It follows that using email instead of post should save us oceans of time. The trouble arises when the convenience of sending an email is so great that we feel we need to include information in our missives that we never would have thought necessary before. We send more of them. And we incessantly check to see if we’ve received them. Where letter-writing was a dedicated activity that we set aside a small portion of our day to carry out, emailing and text-messaging can easily creep into every single moment of our day. This can be seriously disruptive to our ability to concentrate on other tasks and make us feel that we have less time in general.

But do we have a choice? If we live in a technological age, is it even possible to cut back? …Yes and yes. To do this you simply need to set dedicated times for using specific technologies, just like we used to have dedicated times for writing letters. Do not let your use of a given technology creep into other parts of your day beyond the time that you have assigned to it. Perhaps you only check your email or text messages at 11am and 4pm, for example. Turn off all push-notifications. The messages will still be there in a few hours, and, unless you have a job that requires that you be on-call, the people on the other end can wait too. So try it! You’ll be amazed how much time was being eaten up by all your unnecessary text conversations and email correspondences. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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