Today has not been a good day for me and technology. Pretty much every electronic device in my life has turned against me, like in that silly movie, G-Force – I really think there is ghost in my machine, and not the one Descartes envisioned… My computer at work has kicked me off of every necessary network and program, and will not let me back on. My smart phone keeps turning on even though I’m not touching it. The internet at home is so slow even WordPress froze. And my On Demand won’t let me watch my TV shows. Argh!
The question isn’t why are all of these things breaking. The question is Why is it bothering me?
I have lived without functioning electronics before – I mean, I lived in Liberia for Pete’s sake. My phone only made phone calls and sent text messages (although, it did have a pretty awesome flashlight at the end…a necessity in a country with not many street lights). We only had electricity for a certain number of hours each day…assuming the generator was actually working to produce that electricity. Internet was so slow it took about 14 hours to download a video file. And cable…ha! There was no cable.
And the thing is, I was perfectly fine with it. There was a kind of peace in the simplicity of life. It was a nice excuse for pause when the electricity went off. We went outside, met up with friends, made a good meal, read a book (if there was light). My partner and I actually wish sometimes that we could go back to that for a while – Liberian time.
But not here. I have always felt an extreme sense of responsibility and accountability. I make myself available in case I am needed. I follow-up on phone calls and emails promptly. If I can’t be available or I can’t give a thorough response immediately, I let people know. I have even been known to have my smartphone on during family vacations, so I can solve crises while I’m away. My boss calls me late at night, with some work thing to bounce off of me, because he knows I am the one person who will answer. I am always on.
So yes, I clearly need to learn to power down – to take some time to unplug from the sense of reality I have semi-permanently implanted in myself and just let things, LIFE happen. But how? How can I still remain responsible and accountable AND get some time for the rest of me – the many parts of me that are more physical, more carefree?
The “easy” answer – move back overseas. Ha! The “people’s republic of Texas” hardly counts, and Liberia isn’t on the immediately horizon. The not-so-easy answer, the literal answer…turn-it-off. Reach out, use finger, switch device off. Extremely logical (says Dr. Spock), but sooooo hard. Then again, maybe I don’t have to do the work – technology is shutting down on me today anyway 🙂