My relationship status with tech: It’s complicated

Jonna Jerome

Technology just broke up with me. What I thought was a loving relationship turned out to be one in which my devices couldn’t live up to my expectations, and vice versa. 

Admittedly, I haven’t been the perfect partner, and tech isn’t always as simple to implement (or put down) as it sounds. Still, I wasn’t expecting to be unceremoniously booted like when an ex dumps all your stuff onto the front lawn. It’s one thing when a flesh and blood person hurts your feelings and you need some space, but what do you do when your technology starts making you feel bad about yourself?

Maybe tech has a point. Am I the one that needs a reboot? I wasn’t given a choice but to unplug for a while, as my smart devices all seemed to rebel at once. I was left having to make my own coffee, re-build my website, re-write an article, and apologize to colleagues. Profusely. I was also fired by Instagram. I decided to look at this as an opportunity to see if I could still operate smoothly without so much virtual assistance.

It all started in the kitchen. Like many, I can’t function without a morning coffee, so I was devastated when my most beloved device in the house (the Café refrigerator) developed anger issues. This beauty makes java and boils the water right in the door – until the day it began hissing steam like an enraged python and spewing hot water all over the floor. While I cleaned that up, my toaster got in on the act. My once stalwart companion suddenly refused to produce anything other than flaming projectiles. I retreated to my office sans coffee or breakfast. I should have known better than to attempt anything too complicated without my cup of ambition – but at least I put out the fire.

I’m competent at updating my website, yet when attempting to fix a coding glitch in a contact form, some commands I made went on to screw up the entire template. I had to admit my shortcomings and beg a web developer for help.

This was humbling enough, but then I somehow lost an article I was working on. I searched the desktop, hard drive, and backup drive to no avail. And don’t even get me started about the cloud. As far as I’m concerned, that mysterious digital cloud has no silver lining. 

Frustrated, I took a break to check Instagram, which then blocked me when I couldn’t remember my password. Several times. I manage many accounts, but somehow my own went the way of the article.

These episodes caused me to be late picking up my son from school. It also inspired the bad decision to compose an audio email in the car, because my team was waiting for a reply that should have come somewhere between the website meltdown and the game of hide and seek with my computer. As a result, a wildly inappropriate email went out to my professional colleagues. Siri failed to cancel it despite my frantic requests.

You would think this impromptu tech sabbatical would have brought me peace and made me nostalgic for the days when phones stayed at home and didn’t dial themselves, and shopping meant going into a store, but it’s just not true. I’d also be lying if I said I don’t like having something at my disposal that works to fulfill my every request without asking why. Thank you, Alexa.

While I believe everyone should know how to boil water, have a face-to-face conversation, and not need a loan to cover what they bought on Instagram late at night, tech has much to offer. That’s not to say I didn’t need to make serious changes around my usage. Tech and I are in the process of repairing our relationship with healthy boundaries that limit working at all hours, phishing texts, overstuffed email boxes, and an overabundance of social media notifications. And I promised not to try and write code. 

In other words, I’m trying to adhere to what I lecture my kids about. It’s a personal decision as to what enhances your life vs what feels invasive or overwhelming. At the same time, you can’t let yourself become obsolete to the point your kids have to teach you how to operate a phone. It’s like looking into your closet and saying “How much athleisure wear do I really need?” You have the same choices when it comes to how much and what types of technology are beneficial in your life. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Aaron

    Degenerative Artificial Intelligence is on the way to help us all! Great article! A refrigerator that makes coffee? You don’t say.

  2. Dana R.

    Technology can be super helpful, but it can also drive you up the wall. I think many of us could probably use a tech detox, at least from our phones. If it wasn’t so darn expensive, I’d be happy to ditch the morning headlines on my phone for my old school print newspaper!

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