Battling the Digital Monster: Cutting Back on Tech Gadgets

Morning from Reno!

Not sure about any of you, but my summer seems to be flying by… July 4th is around the corner and my half Ironman is within spitting distance.

Today’s blog was prompted from an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal written by Daniel Sieberg about the overwhelming amount of gadgets and digital technology that we rely on. He describes our obsession with technology as a “digital diet” and makes it clear that far too many Americans are “being overrun by technology.” This was a fantastic follow up to reading The Shallows and as always, provides additional food for thought on how much we rely on our tech gadgets and is simply leading to an information overload.

My favorite example was Sieberg sharing stories about the interruptions that Americans jump at:

  • Has something really occurred until you’ve blasted it all over Facebook?
  • Do you spend time with your significant other but don’t speak a word because you’re both immersed in your gadget?
  • Does a blinking notification light make you drop everything you’re doing and fire up your technology?

I feel that you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who can say “no” to all 3 of those questions. Society is changing, and with it our social interactions. Again, when you hang out with your friends it’s almost guaranteed that a majority will whip out their cell phone in the middle of a conversation, and that is already “acceptable” by our standards.

One of my friends only has a cell phone for phone calls *gasp* but I am actually very impressed with that. They also do a fantastic job of staying away from the Facebook addiction (even though they have an account). Unsurprisingly, this person has all their ducks in a row, and I tip my hat to them because they aren’t attached at the hip to their ^@#$ phone!

The article goes on to describe a process for reevaluating your use of technology, and even cutting yourself off fully from it for an extended period of time. Seeing as how technology is my professional job, it’s a bit harder for me, but I’m certainly going to make an effort to limit my tech uses on the weekend.

Perhaps the best part of the article was the “Virtual Weight Index” quiz. It rates your time spent on technology and then gives you a score. A low score (25 or less) means that you could reduce some stress by cutting back on technology, 26-35 means you could stay slightly more sane by changing your habits, and a high score (35+) means you make serious and positive changes for the better by unplugging more often. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. For every non-landline phone you own, add 4 points
  2. For every social network you’re on, add 4 points
  3. For every laptop, add 1 point
  4. For every tablet computer, add 1 point
  5. For every e-reader, add 1 point
  6. For every email account you use, add 2 points (ouch!!)
  7. For every cell texting service, add 5 points
  8. For every online RPG (role playing game) add 5 points
  9. For every desktop, add 1 point
  10. For every digital camera, add 1 point
  11. For every additional gadget that has a charger, add 1 point (seriously!? GAH!)
  12. For every blog you write and comment on, add 2 points

As you can see, this quiz adds up very quickly; however, it does give you a snapshot of what can change in your life. I encourage you to take the quiz and see where you can cut back. For me, it was everywhere!

When do you plan on “unplugging” from your technology next?

Picture Credit. Picture credit 2.

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15 Comments

  1. I don’t get the description of the levels, though. It looks really sugarcoated so that everyone walks away happy, even the addicts, like yourself. lol

    I made some revisions:

    A low score (25 or less) means that you are relatively stress-free in the technological world, Your addiction level is low.

    26-35 means you are moderately addicted to technology and could reduce stress by cutting back.

    A high score (35+) means you need to make serious and positive changes for the better by unplugging more often. You are an addict. Get help NOW.

    ;-)

    1. Jonathan,

      First, I was going to yell at you for counting the razor, but then again it DOES have a charger. Again, I feel like having something with a charger doesn’t make it a gadget… *sigh*

      As far as the revisions, you just skewed that to make people like me look more ridiculous! Hahahah….although I do plan on turning my phone off after Sunday’s race!

      1. It said ANY GADGET with a charger! lol I consider a razor that does its own work a gadget. And my camera’s battery has a charger too… But I just included that with my camera. Anyway, if I actually had to really shave every day, I would be a bloody mess, so it is a technological convenience and a means of transmitting myself to others in a not so gruesome way. But, I am glad we agree I can leave it off the list. :-p

        Well, I just was trying to present the truth – the fact that you are ridiculous! ;-) Anyway, I stand by the fairness of my chart, perhaps minus the last two sentences of the final point. I would like to retract them and replace them with this more equitable set of sentences: YOU ARE RIDICULOUSLY ADDICTED. THERE IS NO HOPE FOR YOU.

        I am glad you made me rethink my original descriptions. :-p

  2. Do you get paid for your blogs? If not, you should! They are always very good, and it’s refreshing to actually take somethig away from a blog other than yikes my friend(s) are crazy and dramatic! Lol

    Anyway…I’m apparently really behind, no clue what a texting service or rpg is, guess I really am getting old :-(

    1. Hey Jeanine,

      I totally wish I got paid! How fun would that be!? I definitely appreciate everyone who takes time to read my thoughts (I’m still shocked people find it interesting).

      And yes, it’s always nice to know that crazy and dramatic friends aren’t the only kind out there!

  3. Stupid quiz. I stopped at 37 (before i started counting things that plug in) to kinda help my sanity. My only hope is that devices that I make dont count. I am pretty sure it makes you doomed for pointing out that people are addicted to technology, on the internet. :)

    1. RH,

      I feel like you should be able to subtract points for things that you make!! But yes, the Internet may be an inappropriate place to admit I’m addicted to technology… :(

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