Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Moderating Work, Technology, and Family... is it possible?

Pic taken from HERE
In an earlier post, Shelle and I discussed the merits and demerits of technology.  Both of us are unabashed tech heads—I mean, we do spend our time blogging obviously—and in the comments that followed the post, Shelle wondered if there was any way to moderate technology, work and family together successfully giving time to each equally.  She didn't think it was possible and dared me to write about it.  Never one to back down from a challenge (unless it involves cilantro or glitter) I accepted.

The biggest problem of the modern age isn’t too much technology, it’s that we have too many choices.  Things used to be simpler when there were five, maybe six TV channels, video games didn't require 20+ hours to finish, and there was no internet with its limitless amounts of time wasting potential.  Obviously things have changed quite a bit.  There are hundreds of choices and countless ways to fill one's hours.  TV, movies, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Farmville, YouTube....  Oh yeah, not to mention quality time with the family, oh, and there's that thing that I need to do in order to pay for it all—work.  As far as I know, they haven't figured out a way to add more hours to the day.  So Shelle is right to be skeptical that one can't juggle it all. 

But I believe that you can. 

When my son was born, I very quickly learned a valuable, yet obvious lesson:  time is precious.  And I felt like I suddenly had much less of it.  But technology was there for me, to comfort me and help me through this trying time.  The fact that the world was becoming more “on-demand” became an advantage.  The playlist on my DVR was not just a to-do list of the media I wanted to consume, but it showed me which shows I really wanted to watch.  I found that there were shows I truly loved that I would watch right away.  The rest would settle to the bottom of the "Now playing" list and collect dust.  As my hard drive filled up, I began to realize that I didn't really need or want to be watching was much TV as I had been previously.  I became a pickier viewer.  Not only did I enjoy TV more, but I had a bit more time.

Being a consumer of media today means one must decide what to consume.  I love movies, but I'm not going to waste three hours on something that I know I'm not going to enjoy (which is why I’m confident that I won’t be seeing the next Transformers movie.  I'm sure you'll tell me all about it, Shelle.).  I’m lucky to have a lot of friends on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve gotten over feeling bad about not reading every single status update or tweet.  This also gives the added bonus of being able to have a real life conversation with my friends without having to constantly say, “Oh yeah, I read about that.”  I can’t read every single blog post available, so I must pick and choose.

It’s not only about choice, but it’s also about compartmentalizing one's life.  There are pockets of time where I will escape to my study to check Facebook.  Or I will blog late at night when everyone's asleep.  I will sneak my Blackberry out of my pocket to check Twitter while the kids are playing in the sandbox.  But you better believe that when they need a push on the swings, the phone's back in my pocket and off my mind.

Living with so many tech choices is about moderation.  It's about organization.  It's about choosing the things you want to entertain you and knowing that in this world that we're living in, there's no possible way anyone can access it all--even without work or family.  It's also about ebb and flow.  Some days I'm not on the computer as much.  Some days I watch less than a half hour of TV.  Sometimes my wife and I decide that we'd rather spend the evening in front of our computers than hanging out.  But other nights we'll spend all night talking to each other.

So I don’t agree with Shelle that it can’t be done.  I feel like I do it every day.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I agree, it can be done if you want it to. It takes time sometimes and it also take disciplin, especially if you've become addicted.

wendy said...

Alex is right...one of the keys here is Discipline. YOU seem disciplined in how you juggle it all.

I am not like Kip (from Napoleon Dynamite) I am frustrated with technology. I am older then most all of you and it seems this whole technology thing is passing me by.

I blog...yes, need to limit myself there sometimes with the time I spend blogging.

I do a LITTLE, itty bit of facebook. That whole thing confuses me. What's up with all those games and sending someone a "drink" or a "bouquet of flowers".....crap, come on over to my house and bring the real thing.

I do not have a cell phone anymore. (hubby does)
I Can. Not. Text
Have never twittered ---have no clue what that is all about

but LOVE my DVD!!!!!!

I certainly think it all has it's place. But should never substitute for the real connections we need to be making and keeping care of in our lives.

sorry, I am rambling...
peace out

oh, one more thing, my best friend used to piss me off sometimes as when we'd finally get together IN PERSON for lunch or whatever and she'd spend the whole time texting....and answering her cell phone.
Awful........Pay attention folks.

DGB said...

Wendy...That is truly one of my biggest pet peeves. I've been known to bust people for paying more attention to their phone than their IRL companions.

When I Tweet or update my status in public, I'm pretty sly about it so I don't draw focus.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

It definitely IS about moderation... but you can't give a 100% to one thing and not neglect the others... is what I was saying.

If you are giving even 90% of your time to your family, then your blogging (social media) suffers and so does your work.

Same scenario if you are choosing work for the 90% or social media.

Yes... you have a Blackberry for the inbetween times... but like you said, you won't get to every blog post nor every tweet and facebook status (who would really want to!)

But it also holds true for work. Do you stay at work to finish the last of your project? Or go home to make dinner? Or that baseball game? Or movie with the family? Which one do you choose more often?

Even moderating... when you give even a little bit more to one... the others are neglected somewhat.

Your post was awesome. And I'll tell you all about how awesome the next Transformers movie is for sure! ;)

TisforTonya said...

so... not so much a question of whether it CAN be done, but whether or not I can do it?

I can't - I can't be all things to all people - when my blog is running super awesome, it usually means my dishes are not done... when my kids run off to school in the morning with their hair perfectly coiffed and a homemade lunch with a love note - I probably didn't check Twitter yet.

but it IS about choices, I'm just making a huge effort to make sure those choices are always my family - so sorry if I'm always last to the comment parties (or if I don't make it at all) - the kids probably forget their homework again.

OneZenMom said...

Oh man, sorry. I was going to read this, but I decided to play xbox instead. ;) Kidding! Good post!

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Sometimes I think it's nice to just put the "toys" away and ignore the technology.

I enjoy blogging, don't twitter (don't hate) rarely facebook and check my email every day.
Technology can be great, but it also destroys so much.

I'm sure if I turned off the computer for a month I'd lose 10 pounds, just cuz I would get off my rear and do something called exercise.

DGB said...

Shelle...But I think life is like that no matter what. You can only give 100% of yourself to one thing at a time. So it's all about the ebb and flow.

T..."not so much a question of whether it CAN be done, but whether or not I can do it?" Well said.

Zen...What I didn't hear you, I was playing "Angry Birds".

Egan...Yes, yes it is. When the power goes out, I'm completely away from my computer. :)

Keith Wilcox said...

I absolutely agree! A friend of mine who doesn't have kids, is constantly on the phone and diddling around with work related tech stuff. He's a workaholic. But, what's funny is that he has no concept of compartmentalizing anything. He has one tune that he plays over and over again. Us parents who still want to be connected have to learn where the off switch is and how to moderate our time to switch modes on a dime. I didn't know that before I had kids -- that kids don't adhere to our schedules, rather us to theirs.

DGB said...

Well said Keith!