By Kristen Abell
When my partner, Sean, and I first got smart phones, we were a hot mess. We’d be in the middle of dinner and checking our work email, answering texts, and looking stuff up on the internets. After a short period of time, we both got fed up with the other person not being present enough and banned all work email during non-work hours. We don’t have a spoken rule about phones at the table, but we do tend to give each other nasty looks whenever the other one is playing on their phone instead of engaging.
This may sound like the start of a “technology is evil and has ruined my family” post, but just hang on to your hats – we’re gonna be turning this ship around in a second.
I hate, and I mean HATE talking on the phone. I don’t know what it is, but if there is any way I can get out of making a phone call, I will use it. I’m just not a phone-talker. Therefore, the evolution of email and texting seems like the coolest thing in the world to me. I have to admit, I probably text or email my friends and family more often than I would have ever called them on the phone (unless, like my mom and dad, they don’t text yet). Facebook, Twitter, and all those other good social media sites have also helped me to connect. What might have been a lengthy email away before is now a quick checking in on Facebook to say, “Hey, how are things going?”
It should come as no surprise that I adore my technology. But I really do feel as though it has given me a different kind of balance in my life – not just balance with my family, but with my friends and, possibly most importantly, with myself. When I was younger, I used to keep a journal on a regular basis. Then one day, I met my partner, and the need for a journal just didn’t seem to be there – if there was something I was thinking about, we were connected enough that I felt comfortable sharing it. But in not journaling, I was losing a creative output – one I wasn’t aware of until I began blogging on a regular basis. And now that I blog, I feel more connected with that creative side of me, the writer, the dreamer, and the storyteller. I can’t imagine my life without that blog now. So that’s just one kind of balance I get from technology.
I also think Sean and I communicate better in many ways because of Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. We may just joke through the different media, or sometimes share something more important, but we are in much more constant contact without suffocating each other because of this – hey, here’s something I felt was worth sharing, take a look when you have time.
And as I mentioned before, being able to share what’s going on in our lives (either through my blog or through Facebook/Twitter or even texting and email) with our extended families and friends has kept us connected in a way that we probably just simply wouldn’t be if that stuff didn’t exist. In the days before Facebook, Sean and I lived in Georgia for two years, and we were terribly isolated down there. Not that we didn’t meet great people, but neither of us are extreme extroverts, so it took us awhile to really build relationships – in fact, those seemed to culminate right about the time we were packing up and leaving town. I can only imagine how much more satisfying and enjoyable that experience might have been if we’d been better able to connect with people through online media.
This is not to say that all of this technology is the end-all be-all of relationship-making. There are still times we have to encourage each other to turn it off, to join in whatever is happening right in front of us. And that’s why you’ll never see me on Twitter or Facebook even close to as often as a lot of the other folks that seem to be on there day and night. It used to bother me that I was “missing out” on all this tweeting, especially when I felt like I had so much to offer – and then I realized I was offering it – just in other places and media.
So I feel pretty good about my balance with technology, but I will probably continue to overdo it sometimes, tweak it way back at other times, and every once in awhile get that perfect fit.
How about you? Do you feel like technology helps you achieve balance in your life? Or have you become imbalanced with the introduction of more and more technology? Don’t forget to post your responses to today’s blog prompt in the comments and use the #sawomenblog hashtag on Twitter to share!