No offense on your statements. We come from different generations. And in a sense I am a dinosaur :)
I am not anti-technology. Actually it is just the opposite. In my job I develop software applications, mostly VBA applications. I also do a lot of Instructional Design work which is computer heavy. Often I am asked to crunch numbers for internal and external customers. I manage a remote field force, which means we do not work in an office. I telecommute 100% of the time. My office is in Michigan and I work in a home office in California, if I am not traveling with my employees or working with clients. All of this means I am "wired" to the world. I need a smart phone and other mobile devices to do my job efficiently. And this technology has allowed be to expand the breadth of my skills across several disciplines... it is unique in my company and has provided job security and good pay. Where many people are dispatched to a slim silo of job functions, I am able to do many things, and do them well. It is not because I am smart, I have learned to leverage and maximize technology to my advantage.
But I have not lost sight of the need to communicate with people. My team is the best trained, and my clients are the highest performers. I attribute this to one-on-one, face-to-face communication. I do not "talk" to people, I listen to them. I see their facial expressions, their posture, and the inflection in their voice. I teach, train, and develop them to their strengths and interests. These are the interpersonal skills that we can use in any and all aspects of our lives. Too many people have allowed technology to replace interpersonal communication. When I train people to use a new software application, how to manage people, how to sell, or how to take care of customers; I chit-chat with them and listen. They tell me about their lives, their hobbies, their goals, their struggles, and themselves. Then I use metaphors based on what is important to them, to gain trust and interest in the day’s ultimate training goal. They retain more, see what’s in it for them, and learn quicker. All of this is not about the technology, but about people.
Technology has allowed me to do more work in less time than many people. When others need to work overtime to get their job done, I can knock off early. And when work is over, it is my time and I put the technology aside. I walk. I look at clouds. I watch ants or bugs. I read a book. I hang out and talk to my wife. On weekends and in the evening I turn my phone off. It has never seen in inside of a backpack. If I go into a coffee shop, I do not have to work… I have already done my work. Today most people who need technology in their jobs work more; I work less. On weekends managers in my company are expected to be available by phone or email; except me. They know I am out somewhere in the wilderness without access. But they usually don't need to contact me anyway, because I do good work, and my direct reports work well without any supervision. I am the only manager who never, ever is available when on vacation. And when I get back to work, I have zero problems... my team knows what they need to do, how to do it well, and I have developed key people to do my job when I am away. Technology combined with good communication has allowed this to happen. This is the role of technology I see in our lives... make life better and easier, and not an end unto itself.
I do not need to keep in contact with the hundreds of people I went to high school and college with. I have moved on to other things, different interests, and new friends. I do not stay in the past, I move forward. I let the technology assist in my growth, not shackle me to itself. And when the power goes out, I can still work with paper, pen, and a slide rule. They are not preferable, but allow me to continue. Others cannot function until the power is restored. A programmer does not need a computer to write code, and a composer does not need an orchestra to write music. It is in their head. Eventually they need to apply the code or music to their respective technology.
Education does not need to be wrote memory. I am lazy, and never bothered to learn all those mathematical equations. I remember being deducted in a class because I did not memorize the quadratic equation; I derived the equation on the test and then answered the question. When the teacher asked why I did not memorize it, I told her it was more important to me to play basketball with my friends than sit at home memorizing a bunch of stuff I would probably forget in a short time. We need to teach kids how to multiply, divide, etc. on paper. They have to think more. The technology comes later. Same goes with writing. Today businesses shut down when the electricity goes out. Others can continue when employees can write and calculate without power. I have seen car dealerships close down for the day when the computers go down; others hand write documents, calculate on paper and get the job done.
In my job I get more work done, work less, and spend more of my leisure time pursuing my interests, which are time with my wife, camping and hiking. Go back and look at all my posts… except for a few weekends, I never post on weekends… we are out hiking or camping, without access to technology at all. We live in harmony with technology on our terms. Each year I spend at least 100 nights outdoors backpacking or in my tent trailer with my wife. And I work full time. Many weeks I can get all my work (and more) done in 3 or 4 days, and take the rest of the week off. I measure myself in what I accomplish, not how many hours I work. Technology has allowed me to do this; it has made my life better.
I am 60 and have an iPhone (replaced my BlackBerry), iPod, and several laptops. I now often read on a Kindle. I have a home network that integrates audio/visual equipment with my computers. I can stream movies to my TV. My home is automated. I can control appliances, lighting, fireplace, and alarm with my phone, computer, or remote control units. But I am not absorbed in the technology… it is just there when we want it; we do not need it. We would rather play Scrabble and talk or just turn everything off. I have always been an early adapter. PDAs? I used an Apple Newton to enhance my job a long time ago… research that little gem. Before that I used some Sharp devices... all synchronized with my computer. Decades ago I was running business on a Commodore 64, then an Apple II, and moved on with each generation of new computer. In those days we had to teach ourselves, no computer classes in school or specialized business software. We started by building our own programs. Then used Microsoft MultiPlan (spreadsheet) on the Commodore. On the Apple II it was VisiCalc. On the Apple Lisa it was 3 Easy Pieces. Then PC-based Word Perfect, dBase, and Lotus 123, and who cannot forget the flat file Q&A database program. DOS, Windows 1.0, 3.1, and those that came afterward.
Both of my kids are recent college graduates, and did very well in college. When it comes to technology problems, they call me, not visa versa.
So what does all this mean? I am not bragging; technology and living need to be balanced. Technology is not living, it is a means to an end; a good well balanced and happy life. To me technology is just a tool, like a hammer or a torque wrench. When the job is done, I put them back into my toolbox. The same goes with technology. I only use technology when appropriate. I do not define my life by it.
I think we need to talk to each other more... one-on-one. We have been doing it for thousands of years. If we let it, technology will de-humanize us.
Anyway, that is my story and I am going to stick with it.
I stand by everything in my original post :)