Friday, January 6, 2017

When A Technology Coordinator "Unplugs"

Cue the cold sweats, nervous tics, and wringing of hands...or not. Over Christmas break I decided to do a little self-evaluation of my technology usage. Below is the daily recap actually originally hand written.

December 17, 2016 9:30am
When  a techie unplugs:
I've been awake for approximately one hour and I have checked my emails, returned correspondence and left my phone on my bed stand. As I started to plan my day, I missed my phone immediately. What's the weather today? What time is the church musical tonight? I need recipes for cookies. 

I went upstairs to walk on the treadmill. As I walked I started reflecting on the decision to unplug for some amount of time- probably the whole break? (checking emails 3 times a day for correspondence and zero social media)- I decided I should start journaling the process. Where's my phone? Dang it! Normally I would just speak into it for these type of notes until I could blog. As I am exercising I feel overheated so I reach to touch the hand grips on my treadmill and it tells me my pulse. Dang it! Did I just cheat already? Now I'm in this internal struggle trying to decide what tech am I giving up and what tech am I not? I mean this was my idea (am I already lessening my goals?)! Meh.

I'm currently sitting down eating breakfast I nuked in the microwave (I've decided this is ok) and I am  WRITING in cursive in this journal that was given to me last year. My handwriting is atrocious and I can't spell atrocious! (I miss spell check). I don't remember the last time I wrote more than 3-4 sentences. My hand already hurts as I have filled two pages of lined notebook paper with this post.

Next up...I've been reading a book on my paperwhite Kindle. I would love to finish it. I'm trying to decide since it was already in process, is this ok with me? I think it's going to be a long day of adjusting. I've got a large TO DO LIST today, we shall see what actually gets done.

December 17, 2016 4:20pm
Cleaned out my closet better than I have in my life. Checked emails once since this morning- no social media but I did realize I am still getting notifications. Since the phone isn't on me, I haven't been tempted to open apps. I have glanced at the notifications when I checked emails. As long as I'm busy I don't even think about the internet. I did put a watch on because I realized I use my phone constantly to check the time. 

My youngest daughter face-timed me earlier and I answered.
That's her preferred way to communicate when not home. I haven't told anyone at the house what my unplugged goals are. Not sure if that's fear of being judged if I don't follow thru or not wanting to discuss it. I finished the book Technology vs Humanity. It leaves me thinking deeply about the what's next of tech and education. I believe the changes will ramp up quickly- faster than ever. As a school we don't necessarily do proactive well- that scares me. How do we prep teachers and students for AI (artificial intelligence), V/R (virtual reality), A/R (augmented reality), or brain interfaces? Will I even be able to unplug 10 years from now and be relevant? It scares me more than it excites me.

The ethics of technology and the future can't be ignored. Lines in the sand need to be drawn, But not I unplug, watch Friends, and write in a journal.

December 18, 2016
It's mid afternoon. Yesterday I broke my plan. I was getting ready to study my Sunday school lesson to teach to 4th graders and realized I didn't have the right book. So, I got online and looked up both lesson ideas and Pinterest nativity crafts to do. It made me try to think back to my past before Pinterest. Was I more or less creative back then? I'm not sure.

Also, at bedtime I checked my email and I immediately clicked on Facebook. I immediately swiped it closed before it even opened. It made me realize how much social media is just a habit for me.

This morning I taught Sunday School and went to the service. I sat in the balcony. I got the cutest photo op of the children down front as the pastor told them his story just for them. It's the first time I really wanted to post something on social media but it's just DAY 2. RIGHT?!

The really interesting thing about this day is that it wasn't util after lunch that I realized I used my phone to ready my bible all morning long. I mean, I've been using my phone as my bible for years now on Sunday didn't even cross my mind to take a REAL BIBLE this morning. Nor did I even hesitate to open my Bible Gateway app. Have I conditioned myself to seeing the app as the bible and always available to me that it never even crossed my mind as going against my goals? Is this how tech becomes who we are when we don't even realize we are using it?

I plan to turn my notifications off on my social media and email because when I am bored, I want to check them. I think that may be something I carry forward after these 2 weeks- no social media notifications.

December 20, 2016
Yesterday I cleaned out a cabinet that should have been cleaned out a billion times over the years. I also went out to do some Christmas shopping. This is where I enjoy tech the most. Almost all my Christmas shopping was done online. I hate crowds at Christmas so once I got home I hot out my computer and ordered my groceries from Walmart. I'll use their pick up service today around 10am. I love this service since I hate grocery shopping.

So have I failed? No. I'm still mindful of my tech usage. I haven't posted or scrolled social media. I'm not checking my phone often. I think I'm creating new habits and lining what makes sense and what doesn't. I've cleaned, done a lot of reading, went to sleep earlier, planned life goals each day better and completed the goals as well. Today is a new day. I plan to bake Christmas sweets and clean out refrigerators.

December 23, 2016
I fudged. I ordered groceries online so I could just go pick them up and I looked for recipes. As I internally tried to decide "is this ok?" I feel it was an absurdity not to use tech to make my life more efficient.

For the first time ever for Christmas I spend the day baking goodies. I then spent time delivering them. It did my heart good. I feel good about myself. It wasn't a wasted morning. Yesterday I allowed myself to check emails and answer more regularly. Life felt more fragmented. Today I'm cutting back again.

I did write a blog post today. This time has given me more time to think my own thoughts- so to speak. To examine who I am and who I want to be. This is a natural thing for me to do as the year comes to a close. I posted the blog post to Twitter and found myself wondering why I felt that was necessary. 

Interestingly, I realized I realized I needed to code my purchasing card for work before Christmas day. That means computer work sometime today- while on my break. Not blaming but the nature of my job once again beckons me to technology usage. I'll do that soon.

Laundry is caught up, I've spent time with my girls in conversations, I've read, exercised and baked. Is this because of internally releasing myself form the bind of constantly checking my phone out of boredom?

My handwriting has gotten no better. These posts seem fragmented as I can't add/take away from paragraphs. Hand writing posts is much more linear than blogging. I'm not a fan.

I also deposited a check using my banking app today. Again, efficiencies make sense to me and I value that more than following a strict THOUGH SHALT NOT TECH philosophy. What I am coming to realize (or reminded of) is the value of presence- truly being in the here and now of a moment. I'll be honest, I'm a day dreamer by nature- staying connected to the real world is a conscious effort for me but how nice to focus on valuing the present. Not PRESENTS under the tree but awareness- people, places, moments that will never happen exactly the same ever again.

I am a sentimental fool as my baby graduated from high school this year and I'm dealing with more "last times." Maybe that's why the value of presence seems so noticeable? I think I am finding a better balance as well as learning some things are priorities to me. It feels good and inefficient at the same time!

December 27, 2016
I posted photos on Facebook and Instagram regarding Christmas and since then I've done some posting. I still haven't spent much time on social media. I did decide to delete the apps (social media) off my phone to see how that affects me. I'm reading more and watched a few movies. I think I've been more intentional with my time...maybe.

I have an idea for a book to write in my head but I think I'm afraid to actually sit down and plan it because I know it will "call me" to be done. We shall see.

This break has been refreshing and yet a little disconcerting. I know that my use of Twitter is only as good as what I put into it. I don't want to go backwards or lose my momentum for learning.

January 6, 2017
Yesterday afternoon and this morning I have worked from home. Stomach bugs hit my diabetic child and that's a scary thing. Everyone in our household has had it but me but today I feel queasy. School is dismissing at noon today for potential snow threat. I just got the text. I'm thankful for a job where I can occasionally work from home and be productive still.

I ended my fasting from social media on New Years Eve. I posted, saw the Christmas posts from family and friends, occasionally commented and enjoyed it. It was nice to see.

As I look today at where I am technology wise and I reflect on my "unpluggness" some might say BUT YOU DIDN'T UNPLUG! And they would be right. I'm not really sure what my goals were in the beginning except for an awareness of who I am in regards to technology. I am certain that the efficiencies that technology affords me seems worth it to me. I am certain that the intentionalness of using Twitter and other social media to connect with educators is worth it to me. I am certain there are times in my life technology gets in the way of presence.

Do I have areas that I should be aware of and work on balancing better? Most definitely. And that was the purpose of this self awareness test. Finding my balance. Do I think I will do this again? Yes I do. Fasting is a good thing. Abstinence from things we enjoy teaches discipline. I can always use more discipline in my life. Are you up for trying my challenge? I do believe if nothing else it will cause you to really start wanting to look deeper in how we are to lead the next generation in modeling and thinking ethically about the future of technology. That's a win.