|Asimov's laws of robotics as depicted through Lego|
- A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given by a human being, unless they conflict with Law 1.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with laws 1 or 2.
While cellphones are not quite at the level of robotic intelligence Asimov envisioned (Siri is still kind of a dumbass), our handheld devices, computers and other technological assistants and enhancers, are reaching a level of allure where they can wreck your life on the rocks, siren style. Tech can cause harm. Maybe not physical... unless thrown at someone, but it can seriously mess with you on a mental and emotional level.
My established readers may remember this time when I said I was going to trim the amount of technology in my life... 'member that? That was awesome! Then, I didn't actually do anything. Well, that changes now! or, rather started changing two days ago.
Over the past several months, I have noticed my technology addiction reaching levels that are affecting my productivity at work, and my quality of life at home. At work, I find myself compulsively checking my email all the time, even when I am trying to research or write for a project. I'll only get a couple pages read, or a paragraph written before I pop back to the email, or check my blogroll. At home the other night, the fiancee and I were sitting on the couch with the TV on. I had my laptop and phone with me and she had two laptops (transferring stuff from old work lappy to new) and her phone with her. The utter absurdity of the situation was not lost on either of us. My compulsive need to flit between my various devices and media sites all day long, every day was reaching a point where I felt like I was developing symptoms of ADD. I couldn't hold my focus on one thing for more than a few seconds without my mind wandering or feeling the urge to just... check... Facebook.
Well, two nights ago, I finally took action. I had read over this article on technology addiction and decided to implement some of its recommendations along with some of my own ideas. I should clarify that my goal is not to eliminate technology from my life, but rather to move back to using it with a purpose and putting it aside when there is no purpose. I still plan to use Facebook, Twitter, this here blog, emails, video games and the Wi-fi's and the GB's... but I want to be in control when I do. I had lost that control, so, here's how I'm taking it back:
- I set email checking alarms for work at 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm. I am taking the WebMD article's advice and holding off on checking my email first thing when I arrive. I tell you, it's a really uncomfortable feeling, but I was amazed at just how much I managed to take care of this morning before 10 am. It forced me to think about my projects for the day and start with them first. This gave me the momentum to move forward on my tasks throughout the day. It also really made email feel like a drug when I finally logged in at 10. I'm telling you, it was creepy.
- I set a bedtime alarm for 10 pm. I have a bad habit of watching just one more YouTube video or just popping onto Minecraft late in the evening, when I should be climbing into bed. I feel like I need the tech to wind down. Well, I have decided that I want to get back to winding down the way I did as a kid. Reading a book in bed.
- I moved my phone and charger down stairs. Finally! I said I was going to do it in my last unplugging post, but it has taken me nearly a year to finally act on it. My fiancee did the same, and said she felt naked without her phone right next to the bed. Well, naked can be freeing sometimes. I noticed an odd side-effect the first morning after I did this. I got out of bed a lot quicker. Once my mind was awake, I got bored lying in bed without a device to distract me... welp, nothing to do but get up and start the day!
- This last one is the simplest, but perhaps the most profound. My main focus is reducing my compulsive checking of social media. I used to always have my email, and Facebook, and Twitter open. Always. I wouldn't just surf them, but I always had one ear waiting for that ping that let me know someone had liked, or commented, or interacted with me! WITH MEEEEE! HOORAY!... When you think about how good a like or retweet makes you feel, it's really kind of disturbing. Sure, it's nice, but why does it matter so much!?
Anyway, I digress. The last step I am taking is to ask myself, "does it matter?" or "is it important?" every time I feel the urge to reach for my phone, or to open up an internet browser. Having that quick mental check has so far helped me stay in better control of my media rather than letting it control me.
I can already tell that this process is going to be hard. At times, I feel like my fingers itch. Just one little click is all it takes! But then I think, I want to read books! I want to draw! I want to talk to my fiancee without my phone interrupting us all the time (and it's not even ringing!) I really hope I can keep up with this effort. I sure intend to try.