Is tech making life easier, or busier?

Everybody is busy. Everyone I talk to is overwhelmed, overworked and overcommitted. I know that I feel that way most of the time. You can’t even get any sympathy from anyone, because if you bring up how busy you are, they just go into a rant about how much busier they are than you.

I thought that as I got older, life would be simpler. It is not. It seems to take forever to get even the smallest tasks accomplished. Free time is a small luxury that rarely occurs.

I get distracted easily, so I am a person that makes lots of lists in the attempt to keep myself on track. But, most days, only a couple of things get crossed off the list, as 10 other new things have come up that day and some take priority over the ones currently on the list, and the others get added to the list, only to make said list longer at the end of the day than what it was when I started in the morning.

Wow, that was a mouthful.

How did this happen? I personally blame it all on technology. Everyone says that technology makes life easier. I disagree. It is distracting. Just ask Alexa to look it up for you or play your favorite music. You don’t even have to move. Driving the car? Siri can dial that number right from Bluetooth. All you have to do is speak.

But it goes something like this for me: “Siri, call Sarah Hoban.” Siri replies, “Calling Sandy Greene.” “No, Siri, call Sarah Hoban.” Siri replies, “Calling Jamie McCann.”

Whaaaaat? These names sound nothing alike. Now I know that I have a beautiful Sussex County accent, but come on. After several attempts, I am stressed out, ticked off, and by the time I finally get a hold of Sarah, I have no idea why I was calling her in the first place.

Life was much simpler before. I read an article not long ago that said the average person looks at their cell phone 150 times a day and averages about four hours a day on it. You didn’t do that when you had only just a landline and email to deal with.

Think about it — a little more than 10 years ago, social media did not even exist. Now we all feel the need to know what everyone is doing 24 hours a day. Celebrities, politicians, police, friends, relatives and people you have never even heard of before… we must keep track of what they all are doing. Share that video of a cat in a Santa suit. It’s exhausting.

Plus, we still need to do all the regular things that we are supposed to be doing in a day. And we wonder why the laundry is still sitting in the dryer three days later and we have no socks to wear. Why is nothing getting accomplished? Put the phone down!

You attempt to have a conversation with someone, and all they do is constantly look at their phone while you are talking to them. They may hear what you are saying but they are not really listening to what you are saying because they are multi-tasking.

I know this because I am the queen of multi-tasking. Or is it just a bad case of attention deficit? I never just focus on one thing. Currently, I am typing this column, eating a pumpkin roll that my sister-in-law gave me, making a list of what I am going to do today, and thinking about what returns I need to make.

Communication is everything, and even though we have more ways of communicating than ever, is it the right kind of communication? Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and so many more…

Adweek ran a story last March that included information on a study done by the marketing agency Mediakix. They calculated the average time spent per day on various common daily activities.

Time on social media ranked second, with the conclusion that the average person will spend a total of five years and four months looking and posting over a lifetime. First was watching television, which we will spend seven years and eight months doing. That laundry still sitting in the dryer came in sixth, with a mere six months of your life spent on that.

It seems that now that we don’t even make a phone call — we just send a text. Actually, we can’t even write a text — we just do text-speak, typing only a letter instead of an actual word. Have we gotten so lazy or so busy that we can only type an emoji instead of an actual response? With all of the new technology that has been invented, we have now reverted back to hieroglyphics.

So as this new year gets ready to start, maybe we all need to take a look how we are spending our time and how we communicate with each other.

Maybe it’s time to stop by a relative’s for an actual visit without looking at your phone the entire time, pick up the phone and make an actual call to your best friend instead of sending them a happy or sad face. Go for a walk with your spouse or your dog instead of watching reruns or read a book or a newspaper.

Take it from a girl who has spent her whole life in the communication business: Words really do matter.

 

By Susan Lyons

Point Publisher