Minimalism Success: Keeping Technology in Its Place

I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

We struggle with limiting online time, but we’re otherwise quite unplugged.And now I’m causing you to use online time, so you can read a post that I wrote, online, about how we’re good at limiting our technology usage.

That’s because it’s all about moderation, folks.

Back when I was student teaching, more than a couple years ago, my host teacher was talking about the telephone (yes, land lines! Remember those?). She said, “The phone is the servant, not the master.”

Good words to live by.

We started letting the answering machine pick up, if we were in the middle of a meal, then calling the person back later in the evening. Just that simple change gave priority to the here-and-now. Face-to-face interactions were now more important than remote conversations. It annoyed people who called us, but we rather liked it.

Now, there is so much more to deal with than the telephone.

We’ve got lots of potential “servants.” There are e-book readers, Smart phones, Blue Tooth headsets, iPads, and so on and so forth. It has become easy–and commonplace–to be in a room yet connected to somewhere completely different. It’s great, because we no longer have to sit at home, waiting for a phone call. If we are talking to someone, we’re no longer tethered to the wall. We can text and carry on a conversation with out bothering anyone else. If we want to look something up online, we no longer have to sit at the desktop computer in the corner of the room. Technology has brought the “future” here, in a very Jetsons and Star Trak sort of way.

Just don’t forget that there is a real world out there.

I’m going to tell you a secret. I am thrilled to no end, that you enjoyed reading about our adventures over the summer. I loved writing about them, and I always love sharing a good story. But, I have to tell you this: I got the better end of the deal. Feeling that adrenaline rush as we entered Thunder Bay again, seeing the vastness of the Mackinaw Bridge as we motored under it, feeling the wind in my hair as we broke hull speed on the run from Charlevoix to Northport….it was all much better than reading about it could have ever been!

We need to unplug. Not just for a weekend “unplugged” camping trip. Technology is taking priority over actual experiences. It is becoming the master. We need to send it back to the servants’ quarters.

Instead of talking on the phone, or texting during dinner, we need to look up and talk to each other.

Instead of spending a sunny day playing a game on the computer, we should go outside and take a walk, ride a bike, or–heck–break out the croquet or badminton set and play a real game!

Instead of walking around town talking on our Blue Tooth headset, we need to make small talk with real people.

Instead of constantly staring at a screen, we need to spend some time just taking in our surroundings.

So how do we do this? Rob and I have only one cell phone between the two of us. We velcro it to the wall, right where the land line used to be. We had a Smart phone, so that we could use the mobile hotspot on the boat. If you remember last summer, that worked horribly and I ended up only posting when we were at a marina or town with wifi. So, we’re going to pass on the Smart phone and switch back to a phone with no data plan. We have cable Internet at home. We don’t carry any devices when we walk around, unless we’re expecting a phone call. And I try to encourage people to contact us on Facebook, so that I can reply at a convenient time.

So, let’s go and have a talk with our servants! It’s time to set some limits.

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