Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Challenge of Limiting Techonology

I have probably whined about it before, but looking at it now, it might be a bit of a blessing. You see, maybe aside from pilots and (officially) bus drivers, I seem to have one of the few jobs, where I do not have my mobile with me during the day.
No reception up here... 
It is usually in my bag, which is often not even in the same room as me, and lately, while waiting for news, I may glance at it a few times a day, usually at breaks, but my phone remains firmly NOT a part of my tool kit at work. 

I recognise, however, my dependency on it a lot of the rest of the time. Outside those eight hours, where a lot of the time I am in fact too engaged (see busy) to look at my phone - I am as dependent as the next person. 

I walk or run with my phone, usually listening to podcasts (my two favourites are Freakonomics and The Reality Check, by the way). I sleep with my phone next to me, as I use a sleep tracking app (and the irony that I am writing this at 4am as I cannot sleep, due to stress, does not escape me). I often sit around in the evenings and browse the internet, usually for about an hour or so, looking at nothing in particular. Just for fun... (remember we have no TV... and my attention span does not seem to do well with the occasional movies that we watch - I blame my phone). 

For D and myself, our technology use has changed a lot since we both got smartphones. We have no intention of getting the latest, fastest ones, but we are both quite heavily dependent on them. 

One of the issues that arise is the 24/7 availability. This post is prompted by the fact that I replied to a work email at 3.30am... I am not sure my colleague will notice, and if she does, I am not sure she will care. For me it made sense, I am up at this hour anyway, I will be way too busy during the day (errr... teaching, which kind of means I need to be on my feet and engaging with children, not replying to the average of 30 emails I get every day...) why not drop her a reply now?

The problem is, do this enough times and people come to expect it of you. Answer your phone every time it rings, and when you don't, people (read: your mother) will come to think that you are under the wheels of a bus. 

Joking aside, I have become more and more aware of the expectations of others towards me regarding technology, as well as mine towards others. I am still one of those people who will most likely not answer their phone when you call. I am not screening... it is simply still on silent - left over from class time. However, when someone else does not answer, I am often worried, or catch myself impatiently wondering what they are doing. The hypocrisy is clear, even to me. 

I had a conversation with a colleague about having phones in classrooms. In my career as a teacher, I have left my phone on in class three times (on purpose). My rule is, if it's not important enough for me to be there, then I don't need to know about it (disclaimer... I have no kids). The occasions mentioned above were while waiting for a phonecall from a doctor, and the last two are related to my father's last days. I was there for most of it, but as his illness tormented him for a long time, I had by then run out of compassionate leave, as well as sympathy...

I like it that way! I like to be connected, but I also like my own terms too. I have started dreaming of "un-connected" weekends. This might be one of the first things we do this summer! 

So if you call and I don't answer... it's not personal. My phone is off, or on silent, or simply out of reach. And that's how I like it. 

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