Five years ago I had a Blackberry – I hated it. Not the technology itself but the ever present email & calendar. With a change in jobs I quite happily left it behind and stuck with a simple mobile phone. That didn’t work out so well in the end (long story) and everyone else already had a smartphone so I succumbed to the technology. Now I can’t imagine trying to manage without one.
No problem? Well I’m not so sure....
This summer we took 2 weeks in the sun to do nothing but sit by the pool, go to the beach and have fun as a family. An utterly brilliant time was had by all. I had to work whilst away so I brought the smartphone and netbook. Neither were omnipresent and the fact that I had to work was remarkably OK with the family.
Sitting by the pool I could see most adults were either reading their Kindle, browsing their iPad or tapping their smartphone. When not in the pool, most of the teenage kids were almost constantly on their own phones doing similar. The technology was ubiquitous and for most of the day these families were happily uncommunicative with those immediately around them.
Yet there were still families like us who were quite happy reading a good old paperbacks, playing with the kids, swimming and hanging out together. When it got too hot or we were too tired we’d all find shade and read, play cards or Pictureka. Sometimes the kids would go explore and hang out with friends they’d made or play table tennis. Even when they got out their DSi’s they’d do it in the company of other kids, constantly sharing, talking and engaging.
Here’s the problem .... am I missing something?
I feel that the ubiquity of technology can be liberating and empowering. I believe that it can also cause us to miss the engagement, connections and sheer joy of those immediately around us.
So is my "kindle-resistance" useful or a hang up from the past?
Is it OK to be uncommunicative around the pool when you can communicate with friends on the other side of the world? After all you're still engaging.
Am I missing something? I would love to hear your views & experiences.