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June 22, 2012 / mike54martin

Take A Break

It’s time to speak frankly about technology. Technology is not our friend. Not quite our enemy, but certainly not our friend. When did it turn against us? I’m not quite sure; but I do know this: it has gone from being a relatively benign force in our lives over to the dark side.

Over the years, technology has promised us the world, and when it couldn’t deliver, it promised us the universe. When the promises got so big that no one could possibly live up to them; that’s when it started to lie. Here are some of the whoppers of technology:

Lie #1: Technology will help you work less

Remember that one? Maybe the abacus workers are working a reduced workweek, but the rest of us we have never worked more. No one works 35 or 40 hours a week any more. Any one who’s working at a lower level or minimum wage job is working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Most people are working at least 50 hours a week and anyone in a managerial role is working 60 hours a week or more

Lie #2: Technology will eliminate paperwork

So how do you like living in a paperless world? Just a second, I’ll tell you when I finish printing my copy of that email you sent me. Maybe if the promise had been fewer envelopes, it might have had more success. The mail is still there; it’s just stuck in cyberspace, or more likely in your overflowing email basket. Sometimes, I wish that email messages were lemmings and I was the Pied Piper.

Lie # 3: Technology will be our servant

Oh yeah. Remind yourself of that when it’s ten-thirty on Sunday night, and you are cutting and pasting your presentation for the Monday morning briefing session. Or when the server decides to take a break for nine days in the middle of your yearly organizing drive

Try and find the techies and the user support people and then get them to agree on the solution as you tread water. How may I serve you again?

Lie # 4: Technology will simplify things for you

I’m not a Luddite. I like experimenting. But sometimes, I just want to turn on the stupid thing and have it run. I don’t want to have to worry about memory or anti-virus software, or anything. Why do highly specialized, highly educated, highly technical people want to guide me through processes so that I will understand? I don’t understand, and I don’t want to understand. Just when I think I’ve got a fragile hold on some aspect of technology, it slips way like a ship in the night. I’m from the “still can’t program the VCR generation.” Nothing technological is easy, nor is it ever simple. For me, bits and bytes are a snack food.

There are hundreds of these lies out there. What can we do to protect ourselves? No advice here, just a caution as you head out on your vacation this summer: be careful. Be very, very careful. Who knows what ugly surprises that old trickster – technology – has in store for you?

Going to try out that new Global Positioning System to map out your route? Bring your old crumbled up paper version, just in case. Calculating your gas to vehicle consumption with your new computer program? Watch the road signs as well, especially that one that says “Next service stop: 225 kilometres.”

Better yet, why don’t you let your technology take a vacation as well? Wouldn’t it be nice to be standing in line at the Giant Ball of String Museum and Mini-golf, and not hear that bleeping bling e-mail notification being played on a fellow travelers Blackberry Wouldn’t it be nice to be strolling through any one of our magnificent national parks, picking up fast food garbage as you go, and knowing that when you get back to your idyllic campsite, you won’t have to worry about checking your email. Because you left your computer, laptop, Crackberry, and IPad at home.

Enjoy yourself this summer. Take a well-deserved break. Let your technology take a break as well. It’ll still be there when you get back. Happy Trails, and may the only bytes you get this summer come from that great Canadian tradition, the mosquito.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant.

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