Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me...Actually It's Technology

We are born with a brain not a power cord.

It's so easy to blame others...other things. Yes, I'm guilty too.

Everyday I read a post, hear a comment, analyze research or engage in some sort of debate about how technology is impacting (ruining) our society. The good, the bad and the ugly. You want the truth? It's OUR fault. We are to blame.

Don't shoot the messenger.

When I was a teacher some parents would say, well you don't have kids so you don't understand. Now I have kids and some parents say, well, you don't have teenagers so you don't understand. As a professor, I sometimes hear, you're not in college you don't know how hard it is to unplug. Here's what I do understand and always believe. Humans, not technology have the real power. 

We say things like, "If it weren't for technology, I wouldn't have ____________ (insert something you did that you now regret)." That's like saying, if I didn't have a car I wouldn't have gotten a speeding ticket, if I didn't have a mouth I wouldn't have made that mean comment. Technology is a THING, it's not human. You own technology, it doesn't own you.  Now that we have all these great gadgets and devices, it is so easy to let it overcome our lives. I get it! Teaching technology courses and striving to inspire others to use technology effectively opens your eyes, wide.

Here are five helpful tips I have found through my teaching experiences and research:

1. Turn it OFF: Honestly for health and happiness reasons, it should enhance your life. There are certainly health concerns and connections to depression when it comes to using technology. Regarding solutions on how to scale back the use of technology from kids to adults: check out these three great websites with essential, intelligent info.

No more digital dinners.

2. Don't hurry me: Really the only question you should  ask yourself: "Does it save me time or waste my time?" Sure, there is always a learning curve, but in the end it should make you more efficient, not looking for a new job, a new friend, a new family...a new life. I also know that people expect an immediate response. I learned a great strategy at a workshop awhile back that if you are just upfront with people about the fact that you cannot always illicit a quick response, they will get it. Instead of constantly apologizing, "I'm sorry it took so long to get back with you." Try letting them know it will take you a day or two to respond (if that's feasible). Unless you are an emergency vehicle or coffee maker, you don't have to be instant. What will your response time be?

3. Have fun with it: Truth is, technology is amazing! It's only getting "smarter". Smart audio, smart video, smart wearables, smart connections...the list goes on. We have seen things already in our short life span that others have only dreamed about. Enjoy it, find ways to use it to keep that positive platform progressing. It is also imperative we know how to use technology. Our world depends on it. We need to be skilled on how to effectively use it and communicate with it.

4. Find the balance: We all have this balance scale deep inside us, our soul. If we listen closely, we know what's really important and we will seek ways to make time for that.

Find what really is meaningful to you. You can't Google that.

5.  Watch out for broken glass: Would you ever just walk on broken glass? No, you know it's going to damage your feet, or make the mess worse. Just as simple as you know that there are situations you need to avoid when using technology. Help someone else avoid that digital broken glass. It could be a tip, a helpful link, a website, an app, a piece of advice that has helped you with technology use. Our lives are cycles of learning and growing. We make mistakes, we learn from them. If we don't, hopefully we have someone who calls us out on them. If not, you have to help yourself.  We need technology to live, sometimes as much as we need food to live, a job to live. BUT, we don't let food run our lives, we try not to let our jobs run our lives and we certainly shouldn't let technology run our lives.

Someday, probably in our lifetime, there will be a digital blackout. It shouldn't worry you, it should give you peace, hope or at least excitement. A day (or week) without technology perhaps would give us more time to to look up and out at all the amazing people and things right in front of us.
Maybe you don't love wine or smooching but everyone loves dancing in the moonlight.

Enjoy Toploader's rendition of  King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight". It's a supernatural delight.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why Today Will NOT Be "Burn the American Flag" For Me

My flag flying outside my house symbolizing my gratitude to be an American citizen.
Despite all of the hatred and hardships, we are given much freedom and many choices.

Lots of talk about different types of flags in America lately.  People taking them down, putting them up, burning them, stomping on them, selling them, buying them, or just ignoring them. There's no doubt about the injustice many Americans face on a daily basis. As we work through these important issues, I feel we need to be reminded that we still live in a great country which gives us many freedoms. Our American flag is a symbol of these freedoms.

In case you haven't heard...today is "Burn the American Flag"...in America .

Declared by a group of  activists (American citizens at that) who apparently think by burning the American flag they can disarm the NYPD.  I'm not going to talk about their reasoning or try to rationalize their motives. If you really care to give them more attention, Google it. I learned a long time ago that changing people's minds is impossible. People change their own minds, usually by calmly listening to or reading about a different perspective explained through simple reasoning.

Here is a short, simple, yet powerful list of reasons for not burning the American flag today (or ever) which are connected to the freedoms we all have, no matter what race, gender or socio-economic class you are labeled:

The freedom to love.

The freedom to have children or not.

The freedom to raise our children the way we feel is the best way to raise them.

The freedom to love our children and others as much as we wish.

The freedom to choose who we want to be friends with and who we do not.

The freedom to sit on a friends' back patio and talk about something that we are sad about, or better yet, laugh all night long.

The freedom to keep our bodies healthy and our minds open.

The freedom to rock out to our favorite tunes.

The freedom to earn a free education.

The freedom to have a job.

The freedom buy something, to own something.

The freedom to dance.

The freedom to be wild, weird, quiet, loud, calm, crazy, unique, funny, classy, sassy, strong, weak, proud, humble...whoever you are.

The freedom to play.

The freedom to make mistakes.

The freedom to get outta town.

The freedom to practice any religion we choose.

The freedom to kick back and have a few beers.

The freedom to vote for any political party we decide at every election.

The freedom to dress anyway we desire.

The freedom to call our loved ones and catch up.

The freedom to celebrate.

The freedom to marry anyone, anywhere.

The freedom to help a stranger or a stranger help you.

The freedom to change our minds about what we think.

These all come with sacrifice, made by each and every one of us. They also come with great service to our nation: made by my grandpa, my dad, my uncle, my friends and people who don't even have a clue who I am, but care enough to protect me. 

America is not perfect. We live here by choice, understanding that while we have the freedom to confront oppression, we are responsible for honoring our country. Burning a symbol of our freedom extinguishes the respect for our freedom.

So if a group of activists want to declare today 
"Burn The American Flag" day... 
then I declare it 
"Don't Burn the American Flag" day!

Happy July 4th--Fly your flag high and proud!

 "You might have to walk the fine line, you might take the hard line…and somewhere on the way, you might find out who you are.  I live in America, help me out."