Technology. For some of us, it's been a normal part of life for the majority of our lives. For my 70-something parents, they were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the technological age. By the time I went off to college in the late 90's, personal computers were a normal feature on freshman dorm-room desks, but laptops were still novelties. In fact, in all of my classes that first year, only one student brought a laptop to class, and he always sat in the same chair - the one next to the only wall outlet in the lecture hall!
In early 2001, I researched a new program being started at the state university level. I applied, and ended up being accepted for the inaugural courses of the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Degree Program, eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Science. I went through the growing pains of online education, experienced what it was like to be a part of a group without ever meeting them in person, uploaded papers, and did it all on dial-up.
In June of 2007, a friend from South Africa introduced us to Facebook, suggesting it as a good way to stay connected once we returned to the States. After Facebook came blogging, and through blogging I met Molly, who convinced me to try Twitter in January 2012. In five months on Twitter, I think I sent out about 20 tweets. But one of those tweets turned into a Direct Message, which turned into a Skype call, which turned into a job offer, which turned into a career that still causes me to pinch myself. Yes, you could say technology changed my life.
And yet...there are times when all this technology, the daily focus on social media, smart phones, computer screens, tablets, ebooks, and more, becomes too much. Although a tremendous amount of good comes from technology - the power to connect, to find jobs, to sell books, to meet new people, to share ideas - it can also swallow you whole. It can take over your life, your free time, your relationships. A friend said it best, like food or money, technology is good in moderation.
It's a pretty safe assumption that technology will, in some way, always be a part of my life. But it's a part that I am willing to bring under my control, rather than allowing it to control me. And while there are times when that takes effort, I believe it's worth it.
What about you? Do you unplug on a regular basis?