It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’ve already received too many emails about Black Friday specials. Keep in mind, before I started the front-end engineering program at The Iron Yard, I unsubscribed from every unessential e-newsletter I had been receiving.
In some ways, I’ve been living in a bubble the last nine weeks. I’ve had to concentrate on the assignment at hand, reviewing my notes, and reading the documentation for every new language or library that has been introduced. I’ve often found myself looking up and discovering hours have past by in what seemed like minutes, or not being clear on the exact date.
On one hand, it’s not unhealthy to disconnect from the over saturation coming from the media. I mean, I had no idea Adele released an album last week or that the final Hunger Games movie started Friday. They’re entertaining, yet meaningless.
On the other hand, I’ve become more aware of taking breaks. I’ve noted far too many times when a syntax error was right in front of my nose while I continued to stare at the code for far too long before someone else pointed it out to me. Also, it’s important to stay in contact with family and friends. Exercise and meditation are important, too, for getting out of our heads and managing stress.
When I was a kid, Black Friday didn’t exist. Sure, department stores offered special sales the day after Thanksgiving and people shopped, but stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day and no one lined up at the door of the store to buy a toaster oven for ten dollars. Online shopping wasn’t even imaginable back then.
I recall retail sales for Black Friday were below the industry’s expectation for last year. I found myself pleased by that information, because I hope it will deter retailers from continuing the trend of asking their employees to work on Thanksgiving instead of spending time with their families, especially since many people travel home for Thanksgiving, yet do not for other holidays in December.
As technology advances and begs for more of our time, it’s important we give attention to unplugging and remembering what’s it like to relating other human beings. Although it’s true we can often experience meaningful connections through the Internet, it doesn’t replace the kinship from spending time in the physical presence of others. It activates a different part of our brain and heart. It’s similar to the way journaling on a computer produces different results from journaling with pen and paper for many people.
Over the past few years, and especially the last nine weeks, I’ve become aware that it’s important to me to find new ways to utilize technology to create more meaningful connections between people.
One fresh idea that exemplifies that philosophy is 5 for Friends, which was featured in a recent Hypepotamus article. The app provides a way for friends to stay in touch in five-minute increments when they find they have five minutes available. They can send a notification to the friend in their network that they’re available, and friend can call them and catch up before the five-minute timer runs out. Thinking I don’t have longer than five minutes to talk has kept from contacting people I want to catch up with, and then my intention falls by the wayside as I get distracted by less meaningful things throughout the day.
What can you do to create a more meaningful connection with technology?