The other day, I caught myself again longing for the pace of life I enjoyed in the third world. Life there is languid compared to life in the United States.
Most people will admit that their life is hectic, and I’m no exception. I think it’s because we have so much technology at our fingertips. Because we are capable of doing things quickly and concurrently, we end up getting trapped in a swirl of multi-tasking.
On an average day, between the hours of 7am and 10pm, I receive fifty emails and write twenty responses, have fifteen face-to-face conversations, answer ten phone calls and make five stops in the car. I once counted sixteen stops in one day.
If not for our cars, cell phones and email, I’d be living my life at walking or biking speed, without constant interruptions. Sadly, it seems normal to drive down the street while talking on the phone. It seems normal to sit at my desk, parsing my time between the person in front of me and my computer screen. It seems normal to turn away from a conversation to answer a call I feel compelled to take.
Twenty years ago, my Uncle Frank told me with regret in his voice, “Nowadays, everybody goes everywhere all the time.” Only it’s gotten worse since then. Nowadays, everybody communicates with everybody all the time. Often while driving.
Life without my car, cell phone and computer is hard to imagine, because in the industrialized world, they are essential. I can, however, make a choice to use them one at a time. “Moderation, dear,” I hear my mother saying, “Technology isn’t bad unless we abuse it.”
It’s up to me to decide at what pace I want to live my life. I can turn off my computer monitor when someone comes into the room. I can refuse to answer calls while in conversation with others. I can ignore work emails between the hours of 5pm and 9am. Most importantly, I can stop using my phone while I’m driving.