Today I Give Myself Permission to Unplug #atozchallenge

Letter UTime for a permission that is a little less etherial and perfect for the letter U. Vowels are always the hardest letters of the Challenge for me and here we are at the last one!

The topic for today’s post was inspired by a conversation I had with a colleague this afternoon. Tomorrow is a public holiday here as Australians and New Zealanders celebrate ANZAC Day. On this day we commemorate all those who have served and are serving in our armed forces and support services. Falling on a Thursday, many people have taken Friday as a holiday making it a four day weekend. Conversing with my colleague she mentioned her plans for Friday to relax and indicated she would probably log on and check in to work that day.

I’m not sure how checking work emails is relaxing, but I suppose there are stranger ways to relax. Some people clean and cook for example. Who am I to judge?

uni technologyThe advent of Smartphones and other mobile devices have meant that we are constantly plugged in. We are getting to the stage where the priciest piece of real estate at any airport will soon be the five metre square radius around the charging pole.

Earlier on in the Challenge I gave myself permission to be curious and I wrote how I had returned to postgraduate studies at university. Talk about falling down the technological rabbit hole. Technology has made a huge difference to study practices. Free WIFI and charging outlets everywhere! Need to look up a website the lecturer is referring to in real time? No problem and to someone of my young years, that’s amazing!

So, I’m sitting in the lecture theatre looking around observing the sweet young Gen Y things and how they interact with technology. Sometimes the only way an old dog can learn a new trick is to scout. This is what I have learned so far:

  • it is possible to complete a university degree by  never taking a hand written note. PEN: noun, definition: a prehistoric writing implement filled with ink, that can be converted to a pea shooter or juggling device when owner suffers a chronic case of boredom.
  • the lecturer actually announced at the start of the lecture series that students should take notes as the assessment will be based on writing and note taking builds skills in that area. Writing is THAT novel, is it?!?
  • there is a considerable proportion of the Gen Y student body in that lecture that NEVER look up from their screens. Not once, the whole lecture. I wonder if the lecturer ever notices. Must be some real entertaining stuff on Facebook or maybe the web cam is getting a great work out. Or they could be reading the assigned material after all, these guys REALLY know who to multi-task.

No doubt about it, technology has revolutionised education, social interactions, news distribution, communication and a whole lot of other things too. Everything at your fingertips only a few clicks away.

But does this mean we have to stay plugged in all the time?

Work emails on the weekends and after hours when I don’t have to be “on”. Not even tempted. Weekends and after hours are for family, regeneration and reorienting our perspectives so that we can perform again the following week. Weekends are for reading the weekend papers, breathing fresh air and getting stuff done.unplug

Social media, blogging and surfing the net, yes daily first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But if I don’t check in, that’s OK too. Recently, I removed the Facebook App off my phone and it has been a really positive move. There’s only so many cat pictures and pictures of doctors who will operate when they hit 10,000 likes one can handle. I don’t feel I’m missing out by not checking Facebook ten times a day.

Being involved in a face to face conversation and hearing the mobile phone ring? I never pick up. Having made the effort to get together we each deserve the other’s full attention. The biggest compliment you can pay someone in this day and age is to give them your FULL attention.

Technology is a fantastic supplement to real life. The world is amazing and technology provides a window to it.

However, at the end of the day it is a tool. It is not a real life substitute.

The Gen Y and Gen Z gods and goddesses will no doubt heap a load of thunderbolts at my head for that sacrilege.

Do you struggle with technology usage? How to you see technology fitting in to your life?

Today I give myself permission to unplug.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

17 thoughts on “Today I Give Myself Permission to Unplug #atozchallenge

  1. The key here, as you point out, is this phrase: “technology has revolutionised education.” The revolution may not necessarily be a sign of progress (as you also hint). To quote Omar Bradley (of all people) technology may turn out to be our executioner.

  2. I love to unplug. I either turn off my phone – or at the least extinguish the ringer – when I’m at a friend’s house, or a restaurant or other out-of-the-house situation with other people. It honestly makes me sick to see people out to dinner, texting, Facebooking, and Twittering all the while. The word “present” doesn’t seem to apply.

  3. In getting my MPH degree a few years ago, I was amazed by how much school has changed since my earlier days. Everyone brings a laptop; most of the reading material is online; and even though classroom discussion exists, online discussions are expected as well. It was quite an eye-opener. Then again, in addition to my public health knowledge, my technology skills increased exponentially.

    I need to unplug more. It’s really hard when one blogs and uses other social media, both for entertainment and for marketing. It’s the latter that prevents me from fully unplugging for extended periods of time. Finding that balance becomes critical.

    • I have experienced the same, that learning in the age of tech has increased my tech skills, as has blogging I might add. These are essential skills to master in what is the reality of the digital world. I hear you about the professional and entertainment balance being right. You do make it look easy and I know it’s not.

  4. Spot on! It is curious how students do it these days, and how professors feel about lecturing a bunch of kids looking at their hand-held devices. From what I’ve heard, some professors have a way around this, and the kids truly have more research now than ever – mainly because information and varied resources are so accessible. A lot of kids take online courses – good for overcrowded classrooms…some of the syllabuses for these literally bury the kids in work. I know because my oldest is graduating from college this May, and her experience over the course of her college career has been quite a ride.

    Thanks for this post. I truly enjoyed it. Unplugging has never really been a problem for me. I make a point to do it, because it’s such an important part of living.

    • Thank you M.J, I truly appreciate your comment. I’m knee deeo in a pile of research at the moment and I just don’t understand how anything can sink in without highlighting and writing comments in the margins of the material. I can’t do it just on the screen. now that you mention it, the course I’m doing consists of regular assessment tasks, more frequent than what I have been used to in the past. Thanks for enlighteng me. And congratulations to your eldest on his or her graduation. My son is just at the start of his university journey, looks like we are going to be in for some fun.

  5. I felt the ‘peer pressure not to unplug myself’ most when I worked in hardcore IT industry. And I hypothesize it is not only a generation thing – older and younger colleagues of mine were happier and savvier in multitasking with laptops, smartphones etc. when ‘technically in a meeting’ or ‘in a training’. (And as you know I am a geek and have been a tech freak ever since 😉
    On the other hand in more down-to-earth engineering I am the ‘most online’ person now. Younger and older colleagues don’t have their laptops with them all the time, print stuff on paper, and consider it perfectly normal not to respond to e-mails for a few days.

    • I think we like to generalize that it’s a generational thing, but I’m not so sure either. It depends what you are comfortable with and I suppose your peer group. My favourite grads in my undergrad days were engineers, so much fun and feet firmly planted on the ground. So good in fact, I married one 🙂

  6. I think there is definitely a growing perception that we need to be constantly plugged in and always available for work… Up until the last few years I thought that was reasonable. I don’t anymore, no one will thank you for it. No one will mention at your funeral that you had an empty in-tray or a quick turn around on email correspondence. I love the idea of unplugging, especially when holidaying. I like to chose places without mobile reception for that reason.

    • We’re on the same page, Bron. You are right no one will have on their epitaph, she wishes she had worked more. I think it’s a discipline like any other, a bit of workplace rubber necking. if we check in then we are compelled to answer and I’ll just do this quickly mentality sets in. And what’s worse that’s then becomes the norm and expectations start to frow around that.

  7. I could use some unplugging, especially after the A to Z challenge which, though fun and interesting, has been an intense time commitment. I agree technologies are tools, not extensions of ourselves.

  8. When I worked, I was plugged into the office even on my holidays. Once I retired, I avoided my computer for about a year. Now I don’t bother with an ipod. My OLD cell phone needs to be updated but not upgraded because I have it only for emergencies. I can unplug and not bat an eyelash.

    Good for you for wanting to do a body good, to give it a rest, to enjoy real people. Great post once again.

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