Tech usage has been a heavily debated topic so far in 2014. How much tech is too much? Should I take a digital diet? Should I use technology to reduce my overall use? Should I use distraction-blocking software?
In other words, how do I create a healthy digital lifestyle?
Unfortunately, the topic is still so young that we tend to view the concept of tech balance as a black/white issue. Either you are a tech fundamentalist or you are a Luddite (one who rejects technology). Your tech usage, of course, is nuanced. You can love your iPhone and your tech-free moments. You can enjoy playing Candy Crush and with your kids. It’s your life.
Right now, however, many commentators (such as a recent piece in The New Yorker) are hunting for irony and paradox. They are looking at the issue through the lens of a purity test, which is inherently flawed. It is seen as ironic, for example, that a person uses social media to promote tech-free times and zones.
It’s 2014. Get used to it.
In the future we will likely treat our tech usage like we treat food and alcohol. Let’s think about our relationship with booze. Is alcohol good or bad?
Our relationship with alcohol is complicated, just like our relationship with technology. On one hand, alcohol provides a great deal of pleasure and is interwoven into most of our social situations. On the other hand, alcohol consumption and overconsumption has led to countless amounts of human suffering. Therefore we try, with various degrees of success, different strategies to appreciate alcohol while also being cognizant of its associated problems.
Personally, I enjoy drinking beer and wine. But I try to be mindful of my consumption. I use moderation. I make whatever rules I feel like. When I see advertisements that tell me to Drink Responsibly (see Consume Less Alcohol), I don’t pick apart the issue in an either/or framework.
Just like tech usage. I can embrace the many benefits it provides while also trying to limit its downsides. I find a balance that works for me, just like you carve out a lifestyle that works for you. The goal is not to remove yourself from technology, but to reach a personal equilibrium that satisfies YOU.