Keeping involved and staying connected has become insanely high-maintenance, demanding massive investments of both time and money. Anyone who works in technology really does require the latest and greatest Time-Saving Gadget, even if it will be outdated in 3 months and obsolete in a year. Once they take the first step onto the upgrade hamster wheel, they're stuck there as long as they want to remain competitive. Those contenders with last year's Time-Saving Gadget model will be left behind. What used to be a slight technological advantage has taken on a desperate deal-breaking tone in this economic climate.
There is so much pressure to be instantaneous and keep up with the world in every way possible way, to be available to everyone, all the time. It's so easy to rationalize: "Won't it be great to have access to My Important Thingamajig right on my phone! Now I can get so much done from home!" And once that door is opened, availability combined with convenience is insidious. The easier it is to take care of work from home, the blurrier that line becomes. Without continual vigilance, work seeps into all the little free time cracks it can find. Bosses and co-workers who know they can call you on the weekend-- will do so. Without fail. Guarding free time takes a lot of energy. Not to mention taking up yet more free time.
Thank god that's not my life anymore.
I found my limit when it came time last year to upgrade my cell phone. I refuse to buy a phone which requires a mandatory data plan, and when the phone I really wanted had that string attached, I walked away from it. Every year there are fewer and fewer of the older phones available, because of the incessant clamoring for the newest innovations from those customers who either A) actually require that technology or B) want the status the technology infers. I no longer care that my phone is old. It makes calls, and I can send text messages. I don't care about the rest anymore.
I hope I'm not coming across as judgmental. Some people genuinely do need all that technology at their fingertips. I am not one of them. It isn't that I don't want the pretty phones. I really, really do. But I refuse to pay extra money every month for keeping me available by more channels to the rest of the world, something I don't want anyway. Having the internet on my phone costs me time. When I turn off my computer, I want it off, and I want to walk away from it. Some folk may have the willpower to resist the availability of constant internet on their phones, but I would not be one of them. I'm too thirsty for knowledge to abstain from the temptation. I want a Kindle for the same reason; it's a little cross-referential orgasm.
No! Must. Resist.
I'm easily distracted by the shiny onslaught of the latest gadgetry. But I've recognized them as one of the sacrifices I need to make, in order to make my life slower and simpler. To multi-task less, and focus more.
I want to be less connected, not more. I'd rather read an actual book I can buy for a quarter at the thrift store and smell the pages on my fingers. I'd rather be writing, painting, maybe have another kid and be able to stay home this time around. There are so many things I'd rather be doing with my time than check Twitter compulsively on a $400 phone. Not to mention all the things I'd rather be doing with my money.
I am blessed with visiting a cabin every summer where there is no dishwasher. There is no microwave, and no TV. And there is more time when I am there, not less. More time, even though we hang clothes on the line instead of using the dryer, more time even though we fill the water cups from the well outside instead of using the faucet. I want to translate this into my everyday life. Slow down. Drink water from the well. It tastes so much better.