Drowning in technology

social-networksBy Nike Bentley

Recently I’ve noticed technology eating up more and more of my time. Blogs… Facebook… Pinterest… YouTube… It starts with an innocent, “I wonder how that job interview went…” log on to Facebook, click on a link a friend shared that takes me to a blog post that then makes me remember something I was going to look up and suddenly I’ve pinned 10 s’mores recipes to my S’mores Board and three hours have passed. (That may or may not have happened in the time I’ve been trying to write this post. Multiple times.)

Know what didn’t get done in that time? Well, this blog post for one. Two, having a meaningful conversation with anyone in my house — unless, “holy crap spider, where did you come from?!” counts. Three, any housekeeping at all (though I did smash and throw away the aforementioned spider). Essentially, I was a mindless blob for hours clicking from one link to another, flowing from site to site like a lost ship at sea with no real direction.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is awesome. I can Skype with my out-of-town family. I can send messages to my friends overseas and they’ll get them within seconds of my pressing “send.” And have you seen my phone? I can take pictures with 5x better resolution than my first digital camera. It is both TV and radio. I can access the wisdom of the ages, map directions to a destination, take notes, and play Tetris. Oh, and call my grandparents — cause it’s a phone! That magic device fits in my purse and I can customize the ringtone. In a pinch it doubles as a flashlight thanks to the handy “Flashlight” app I downloaded… onto my phone.

And yet with all this technology and all the multitude of ways to feel connected I’m feeling very disconnected.

I’ve always been on the socially awkward end of the scale, so being able to communicate without actually being in the same room as anyone has been a godsend. “Like” or “Comment”? I’m all over that! See pictures of your party without having to attend? OK! Networking event downtown that could possibly change my life? Er… no. But if you post a blog about it I’ll totally read it!

Except this accepted godsend of technology has become a crutch. I can’t remember the last time I had an honest, thought-provoking conversation with anyone outside of my inner-circle. Why should we when we have nearly constant access to the inner-workings of everyone’s heads? Though, honestly, direct, stimulating conversation is a rarity even within my inner circle. Possibly because everyone has their noses in their phones…

IMG_2497 (2)

Team captain Nike Bentley at the Epic Oregon 2014 event.

Miranda Lambert’s new song, “Automatic,” has been on repeat in my mind for weeks now. While many of her references pre-date my memory, the longing for a simpler, albeit more labor-intensive, life is something I’m also yearning for. I want to be invested in things that matter – my people, my home, my food, my community – and yet I keep finding myself drawn to the white and blue website that promises to keep me connected to my friends and family. If the proof is in the pudding it’s not actually doing my relationships any favors.

Maybe I should pick up a pen and paper, or even my phone for calling purposes, and make personal contact with the people who really matter… After I e-mail this blog post.

Nike Bentley is slowly attaining an age that fits her personality… only 36 more years to go! This Oregon native, oldest child, wife, mama, and s’more connoisseur enjoys exploring the great outdoors and making 11 friends/family/total strangers run 182+ mile relays with her for fun. (Her husband refuses. She likes him anyway.)

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Editor’s note: It’s fitting that Nike is a charter member of Voices of August because she was a student in the first college class I taught about the blogosphere back in 2009. I created my personal blog (the original Rough and Rede) expressly to have something to show the class and I launched the first VOA the following year. I’ve always appreciated Nike’s friendliness, sense of humor and down-to-earth manner.

Tomorrow: “A time-honored tradition” by Leroy Metcalf

 

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9 thoughts on “Drowning in technology

  1. After living many years of my life without email and Facebook, I totally embrace both. I now connect, sometimes on a daily basis, with many old friends whom I never wrote a letter to or picked up the phone and called. I still do not fully appreciate or employ all the features of my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, iPad, MacBook Pro and I probably never will.

    • After writing this I found myself 20 minutes from home with a toddler asleep in the backseat. I thought, “No problem, she really needs a nap and I have some calls to make.” Except I didn’t have my phone. We sat outside the library for an hour while she napped and every few minutes I would think of something I needed to do or someone I needed to call and yet I didn’t have my phone. I agree, it’s all very distracting, but it is nice to have for those moments you just need to kill some time!

      • This was supposed to go under Lynn’s comment. Thank you Bob for showing it is possible to have restraint when accepting new technology. I have a few older relatives who have blossomed on Facebook and it’s great to be able to connect with them in ways we never did before.

  2. I could not agree more, Nike, on all your well-written points. First, the internet and all that it offers has made me feel like I’ve developed attention deficit disorder … big time. Second, like you, I find I no longer have to interact with people (I forced myself not to write “deal with”) and buy nearly everything online now. Pick up the phone and call someone? Not if I can find an email or web link! I agree with Bob about having found old friends on Facebook and how that’s a (mostly) good thing, but I am always amazed at how much of a distraction this all is! I was a holdout on buying a smart phone, disparaging of those people who always had their nose buried in one … and then I caved HARD! Now I am that person … ain’t proud of it, but really, at the doctor’s office instead of picking up germy, old magazines, I can actually get things done … like look at Facebook! 🙂

  3. Well said. It’s gotten to the point where if one page is loading too slowly I’ll open up another tab to look at in the mean time. Outside of work, it’s mostly when I’m reading a book, engaged in someone else’s story, that I’m not trying to multitask, clicking from link to link, going from page to page and article to article. I relish that quiet.

  4. The other day I tried to figure out what I used to do before computers, email and Facebook. I’m just try to summon up what it was I did on a day to day basis. Though I find it all distracting, and on the human end a way to cop out, I think I’d be worse off, on balance, without it. However, actually talking to people, or just creating a space for nothingness is pretty sweet. Nike, when you were talking about your daughter napping, and wanting to talk to someone on the phone, I thought “I only wish I had a daughter to watch napping. I’d take that over a phone call any day.” Those are the miracles worth putting a phone down for.

  5. I think we might be the same-ish person, with a slightly different take on social media. But before I get to that, allow me to give a Prost to H2C. I miss it. And you’re name. Was running a self-fulfilling prophesy or the reason for a chosen name?
    Back to social media: I was a holdout ’til last summer. I was pretty proud of that — a bit smug, really — and I only joined because that is how I could apparently be notified of my kid’s soccer practice cancelation along with the rest of the ‘rents. I learned that the hard way, of course, with a kid excited in cleats — alone on an empty soccer field.
    And now? I’m a FB whore.
    But here’s the thing: I love it, and I think it is time well-spent. It is this at-home worker and single mom’s social life. There are a lot of days I don’t see another adult, let alone get to talk to one. And FaceTime with the under-10 set can at times drive me crazy. No, I really mean “CRAAAAzzzzy!” So cheers to social media. But get a timer. Don’t let your days and nights get gobbled. And remember that Facebook (or another platform) is gonna be our future communication with our minions.
    Like you, I do worry the art of in-depth personal interaction is fading in my peer group, but I think in-depth connection is huge in social media. (Maybe because we all get to finish our sentences?) I feela lot closer to certain people than I ever have. (That should have been expected, really, seeing how I write better than I talk, even though I’m more of an extrovert than you assess yourself.) Cheers to figuring out balance in the social media pool. “Ya take the good, ya take the bad, ya take ’em both and there ya have ….,” social media.

  6. Oh my god! We must have been separated at birth even though I was birthed several years before you, but still! Now I have to check out your s’mores board – thanks for that. This was spot on and laugh out loud funny. I think I feel so much more comfortable on social media is because I am better at writing down my thoughts than speaking them in real time.

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