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VPSA Blog: November 14, 2018


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Balancing Technology

November 14, 2018

People in my age group (Baby Boomers/Gen X-ers) express concern about excessive use of technology, stating that social media, texting, email, and the like remove us from face-to-face contact. That is a legitimate concern. Have you ever tried holding a conversation with someone while their eyes and attention were glued to their screen? It doesn’t feel much like a balanced interaction. On the other hand, we may inhibit our ability to communicate more in-depth and with a broader audience if we abstain from the spectrum of digital mediums available. As technology changes, we must learn the best ways to integrate it into our lives.

The development of new technology demands new standards of conduct. In the early 2000s, phones were not allowed in classrooms. Now smartphones are so commonplace that it’s practically unthinkable to suggest that anyone leave their phones at home. I’m a big Star Trek fan, so I like to muse about the day that it becomes commonplace to have a replicator in every home. Maybe we’d get them for the residence halls, and we’d have to install a sign that says: “Students are not to use the replicator after midnight.” Jokes aside, 3D printers are now relatively easy to get, which has sparked the need for laws that prevent the production of 3D-printed firearms—our rules and expectations change with technology.


Truth is more than the just the absence of lies. Truth is conducting oneself with integrity, being responsible and reliable for those around you.
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Over my lifetime, the changes have been seismic. When I went to college, I took a manual typewriter. I remember the sound of the heavy metal keys clacking, the zip and ding of each new line, and the cranking of knobs that turned to load or release single sheets of paper at a time. Early in my career, it was common to be in a meeting and hear the question, “Does everyone have email? No? Okay, Janice, George, and Christine don’t have email, so we’ll have to get it to them through the intraoffice mail delivery.” Fast forward to today, I carry a computer in my pocket. I dictate emails to Siri or tap digital “keys” that don’t make any sound unless I want them to. When I go home, I say “Computer, set lighting to ‘Savannah Sunset,’” and my Echo sets my personalized lighting arrangement right away.

It is up to each of us to be smart about why and how we choose to engage with technology and understand the effect it has on various aspects of our lives and the people around us. That doesn’t mean we should all become experts in every new use of technology that pops up—that would be impossible. However, we should always remain open to learning about new things and consider how we can use technology to help and not harm our relationships and in-person interactions. What do you do to maintain a balance between your digital and face-to-face interactions?  After all, “resistance is futile.”

What do you do to maintain a balance between your digital and face-to-face interactions?
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