This year I have learned that I have a trigger that tells me I am not feeling right. That trigger is when I feel bored with technology. This year, I have been both enamored by technology and also afraid of its impact on my life. I have embraced technology and also detached myself from it. After spending many months using technology less than I used to, I’ve started to find what I think is a balance between using tech and doing other things with my life.
Last night, I felt tired with technology. I was pondering a project idea and I started to ask myself “what is the point in doing this?” The answer was “because it is fun and it makes me happy” but it took me a while to realize that.
There are moments where I sometimes get into a funk. During these times I feel like I would rather live in a cabin in the woods somewhere than keep going with technology. I think that a lot of people have these escapist fantasies every now and again. It’s nice to think about what life would be like if I was someone completely different who did not use technology.
The fact is that I love technology. Earlier this year, I made a key realization: I do not like fast technologies. Participating in one Slack community outside of work is all that I can muster right now. I don’t speak with many people directly online outside of work. I just feel like every new person with whom I talk is an additional task on my to-do list.
This year has been about eliminating the things that do not bring me joy. I sometimes go too far with this. I have never seen Marie Kondo’s show but I have been influenced by some of her mantras by product of what I have read about minimalism. I have a minimal bedroom and office design. I like to keep things simple. I am doing this not out of some aesthetic pursuit but because the less I consume, the less of an impact I have on the environment.
Technology does bring me joy. Let me tell you this: no matter what you think, I enjoy using technology. I love programming. But I do not like to do it all of the time. On some days, I can code for hours. There are other days where I just want to leave my computer alone.
One Day at a Time
My relationship with technology changes every day. I gave up using my Fitbit after the strap broke on account of a concern that I was looking at the clock too much. I am now using my Fitbit again. I deleted my Exist.io account yesterday beacuse I felt like I would not use it. I may sign up again because I think that I actually quite like their software. All of these changes are somewhat stressful but they are also part of who I am.
What I have learned is that I work best with technology when I use it in accordance with my principles. First, I like to use technology to learn. All of my visions of living in a cabin with no internet access lack one key feature: the ability to learn about subjects that I’ve been passionate about for years. In fact, it would be really hard for me to continue my pursuit into hobbies like coffee without the internet. I rely on the internet to learn new things.
I like using the internet sustainably. This means that I like to use services that provide me with a lot of value. If I am using a service that is suboptimal and leaves me feeling like there could be something better out there, I will stop using it. I gave up on Quickbooks within less than an hour after realizing that I can do all my finances more efficiently in a spreadsheet. It turns out spreadsheets are also easier to read which gives me more confidence in my calculations (which I think is especially important when it comes to the t-word: taxes).
I like preserving my privacy. I sometimes share quantified self information on this site. I still do not have a stance on whether I should be more open with my data. I’m still young and so I have concerns about posting some data like my step count out into the world before I am ready. Again, I am taking things one day at a time.
This post is somewhat of a reminder for me that I do not dislike technology. I love technology. But I only love technology when it serves me. When I feel overwhelmed, I know it is time for a break. Breaks are fine. There’s no reason for me to commit to something that will not bring me happiness. This year has made me think about what is really important to me. Some articles I have read tell me that time spent in front of a screen is wasted. I believe this can be the case but only when I’m not doing anything that I love. When I’m coding or writing or reading, I’m happy.