The Family That Techs Together
Pew Internet research has just released a new study about the impact of technology on the family
It’s a mixed bag of news– families are connecting more but enjoying it less. More access to technology often means dual incomes and more time physically away from the family. If you’ll pardon the expression, this is a megatrend that will be with us as long as anyone reading this blog draws breath.
The root of the downside is the wealth paradox that is upper-income earners work more hours than their middle income counterparts. Dual-income earners exacerbate this effect. Anyone who’s had to tell their spouse to “get off the computer and come to dinner” knows exactly what I’m talking about.
This tele-conflict is going to get worse before it gets better. Admittedly I am one of the worst offenders–though I’ve tried to set smart limits on both myself and my daughter.
Soon however there will be a backlash to all this “always -on” sensibility–people will peal off the grid–probably not soon enough for their own good, however. The recession is going to –at least in the near-term–keep people connected to the web.
This is the modern ball and chain for many knowledge workers.
Coming to terms with the value of presence as opposed to the potential emotional vacuum of telepresence is a foreign concept to all but the most extreme tech worker or fruity new-ager. Still the idea has started to resonate with all of us now as demonstrated by the Pew results. As the weight of our economic life begins to take its toll, the dark side of technology will become clearer. More and more people will be forced onto the grid as the promise of technological efficiency becomes part of our “way out” of our current economic challenges.
Feels like a great opportunity to hype the book
from Chapter 1
Like all preceding generations who longed for the “good ol’ days,” we will pine for the days when we could turn it all off, when there wasn’t enormous social pressure to be continually accessible. After all, what could you possibly be doing that’s more important than responding to an ever-larger number of people who need you now? With great self-importance we respond immediately and get stressed when we don’t. At the same time, we both ridicule and reluctantly admire those who choose to go off the grid.
The August 3, 2007 Business Week quotes a Silicon.com study stating, “A shocking 40 per cent of respondents said they check work e-mail at least once per day while on holiday, and a further 14 per cent said they log on once per week.” Some people have even become so addicted to using the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device that it has acquired the nickname the “CrackBerry.” Twenty-one months earlier, in April 2006, the BBC reported that a “study, carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry found excessive use of technology reduced workers’ intelligence. Those distracted by incoming e-mail and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana.” Further, a 2007 survey by Ad Agency J. Walter Thomson showed being connected to the Web was more important than sex to most of the 1,011 people surveyed.
Some of us yearn earnestly to have more self-discipline as we compulsively check our mobile devices. “Living in the moment” will be under the greatest threat. We’ll need to manage the risk that people may like us more when we are “telepresent” than they would when we are physically present…the grass is always greener where one’s telepresence is. There is more potential and imagination is more real when you can project yourself to a place where you and those you interact with are free to fill in the lines. Telepresence creates the possibility that the person on the other end of the line is more attractive than the one in front of you…that the party you are going to is likely more “off the chain” than the one you are physically attending. We risk being seduced by both perpetual distraction and the “potential” of the future while losing the value of the present.