From a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Your BlackBerry or Your Wife” :
When you’re out to dinner, does your BlackBerry occupy a seat at the table? Does your spouse ever check email before saying “good morning” to the kids? Does your son sleep with his laptop?
It may be time for a technology cleanse.
Like an extreme diet that cuts out all processed foods for a short period of time with the promise of lasting good health, a technology cleanse means you unplug for a short time with longer-term benefits for your relationships.
Makes perfect sense, right?
But could you really do it? For how long?
I depend on technology for my work, and I confess that I understand the origin of the slang, “Crackberry.” (For those not in the know: “Crackberry” was named by Webster’s New World College Dictionary as its 2006 word of the year; it is defined as “a nickname for the Blackberry that was coined because of the device’s ‘addictive’ nature.” But I think the term applies equally to any smartphone with similar qualities, like my iPhone.)
The love-hate relationship we have with technology has been written about extensively. The Wall Street Journal article I cite above observes that, “For all our constant connectivity, our electronic devices often keep us apart.”
One of my favorite explorations of the topic is the book “Hamlet’s BlackBerry,” which discusses some of the surprising struggles with which we have dealt through the years, from the beginning of verbal communications through today’s insanely high-tech devices. A highlight:
These challenges were as real two millennia ago as they are today, and throughout history, people have been grappling with them and looking for creative ways to manage life in the crowd. We can learn a great deal from their experience and the practical ideas that emerged from it.
I can’t take a sabbatical from my iPhone or laptop because, although it might help my personal relationships in some ways, it would damage my professional life. I’m not even sure I want to take off a full day each week, as my rabbi has suggested. So, instead, I’ll attempt to expand on the little breaks I’ve created: by trying to ignore the iPhone during the dinner-to-children’s-bedtime routine and by staying away from the laptop on weekends except when I have a work-related deadline.
Is that enough? I don’t know, but maybe it can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
How do you separate your work from your personal life? Would turning off technology help? Could you do it? Have you tried?