The Connection Conundrum

by Jenni

“Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

As people who value living intentionally and in the present, how do we make decisions about the technology we use?

This is a question I personally have been wrestling with lately. You see, I lost my old cell phone and need to replace it. But instead of getting another “dinosaur”  phone, I am considering upgrading to a smart phone. There would be many benefits to me having an iPhone or Android, but I’m aware there’s also a downside. What I am unsure of is this: Do the perks outweigh the pitfalls?

The benefits are obvious.

  • As a work-from-home entrepreneur, being able to engage with my clients in a variety of platforms is important. Now that I keep different office hours and often have a baby in one arm, checking email and social media accounts from a hand-held device would be a convenient alternative to wielding my laptop computer.
  • We travel a lot and it would be great to have a GPS when navigating new territory.
  • I’d love to easily send photos and videos of our baby to grandparents and great-grands, as well as Skype with them from anywhere.
  • Clever apps could simplify my household management at home and on the go (menu planning & grocery lists, budget & bank account balances, etc)
  • And of course the entertainment and social factors!
The concerns are serious.
  • At what point do I become too connected and available to everyone in the world except for the people right in front of me? I do not want to become that person who is always on her phone, to the neglect of those she’s with physically.
  • I work hard at my career and I LOVE it! But especially when you work from home, it’s important to establish boundaries for yourself so that you don’t wind up always “at work.” What I like about a laptop computer is that it’s portable, but also easy to shut-off, close and walk away from when it’s time to shift gears.
  • Will I say after a month that “I could not live without it”? Technological dependency begs the question of whether the human is master or servant. Is there detriment to my “smart” phone thinking so that I don’t have to?
  • Even with the communication technologies I use now, it’s easy to spiral out of control in a Technology Loop. (Check out this hilarious Portlandia skit on YouTube for an example: http://bit.ly/hTKXXY)

So how do I decide whether to invite this new (to me) level of communications technology into my life? Asking questions is always helpful. Questions to ask:

– Does this help me better fulfill my most important callings better (Christ-lover, wife, mother, professional, home manager, friend, etc)? Or does it hinder me from the most important?

– Is this in alignment with my core values (simplicity, mindfulness, relationships, health, spirituality, professional excellence, generosity, etc)?  Or does it undermine those values?

– Based on my track record with other tech tools, if I choose this, will I use it appropriately and moderately, or am I likely to overuse and end up in a perpetual Technology Loop? What specific boundaries would I set up for myself?

-Is this something I need to acquire now, or could the decision be made later?

– Does it make financial sense to upgrade? Is this the best way to spend those dollars?

At this point, I honestly could see myself going either way. As I spend time in these questions, I think my choice will become clear. It may seem to you like I’m making a big deal out of nothing–especially if you already have a smart phone and think it’s awesome! But don’t worry, I’m not losing any sleep over this–I just want to be intentional and not slide into decisions that will impact my life and relationships.

What about you? Help a sister out by sharing your perspective and experience! Specifically, do you have a smart phone or not, and why? If so, what do you use it most for and what’s the best/worst thing about it? 

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