Every semester that I teach my Workplace Technologies Class, I ask the students to go 24 hours with no use of communication technologies. That means no cellphone, no Internet, no ipod, no Facebook, no computer, nothing that can interfere with face-to-face communication. Some of them have profound experiences, while other just do the assignment. I always do this exercise with my students and in all past semesters I’ve done it during the week. This year I decided to try an extended weekend and while I do feel like I cheated a little bit, I also learned some fresh things from the exercise. I turned off my phone for this past weekend and did not log back on to my computer until late Sunday evening. I went fossil hunting and hiking with my family. My daughter found the wind and sun a bit much, so she only made it a few hours. I realized that I got to have an uninterrupted conversation with my son for a whole day. The obligation that we feel when we carry our mobile phones with us or have ready access to email changes the conversation. At home I find myself justifying the interruptions with the excuse that it will only take a minute to check my email. But that interruption, even brief, has changed the flow of our discussion. Our conversations were deeper and the exercise proved quite enlightening. I did not feel the pain (and I do mean pain) that I normally feel when I know I’m missing conversations and I did not worry that something would happen to my kids and I would be “unavailable,” but I still learned something new from taking a weekend off of technology. The experience did not stress me out like it has in the past, but it has made me think about much deeper issues in my own life and that of my family. Try it sometime or contact me and I’ll let you know when we do it again next fall.
Intellectual Adrenaline Junkie experiencing & studying this communication technology-filled world!