I enjoy all three of my Apple devices and use them all everyday: my iPhone for texting, for being in touch with my family, and even for the occasional phone call; my iPad for reading, watching baseball, checking email, staying up to date on what’s happening in the world, and for its mobility, and my laptop for working on MillersTime or writing more than 140 characters or short emails.
But there’s a price (beyond money) for all this connectedness and ability to be in touch.
I’ve always felt there are three ways to enjoy something, three ways to experience an event, an activity, or what we do: looking forward to it, enjoying it while it’s happening, reflecting on it after it’s over.
Most people, myself included, seem to be better at the first and third of these than at the second. At least that’s been my working assumption for years.
With the added reality of our new technologies, I think there is a further diminishing of our ability to fully engage in something while it’s happening because we also often have our eyes on our ‘smart’ phones, tablets, etc. We are so constantly connected and checking them that I think our attention is diluted from what we are engaged in at any given moment.
Pick almost any activity – parents in the park with their kids, people driving, fans watching a sporting event, diners at a restaurant, people walking along the street, folks traveling, etc. – and there’s a good chance some of them/us are also checking our phones for messages, texts, pictures, info, etc.
Or what about the intrusion to reading? When I’m reading on my iPad, I find myself at the end of every few chapters, checking my email or a baseball score, or for some other piece of information that takes me away from what I’ve been reading.
I’ve noticed over the years that when some new technology captures our attention, whether it’s the TV, tape recording, pagers (remember those?), desk top computers (remember those?), music players, cell phones, etc., the tendency is initially to over use them before we learn to control our use.
But I sense something different is happening with the smart phones and our ability to be always ‘connected.’ Whether it’s an addiction or not, I’m not sure, but I think they are more than just a distraction.
For all the benefits they bring, I think they also interfere significantly with our attention to events and experiences while they’re happening.
Am I just getting older and a bit fuddy-duddy, or do others see what I see?