“Time is not money. It’s the way human beings move through this thing called life. If we can bring ourselves to consider the ways digital technology can make time rather than simply take more of it, we will be in a position to live for a better today, right now.”
-Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
I’m currently on spring break, enjoying a “staycation” at home in Louisville. For the next week, I’ve got plenty of time. I don’t need to check my work e-mail. For at least several days, I won’t log on to Google Drive to work on my lesson plans. I will blog and check my Twitter feed for compelling links, but digital demands are low.
When it comes to working as a teacher, I don’t save time due to digital technology, largely because I choose to engage myself in digital possibilities.
Digital technology funnels me a conveyor belt full of more responsibilities and requests, more e-mails, and more blogging and social networking opportunities. I find myself constantly weighing whether or not to accept new digital tasks and challenges, because I’m sensitive to having the choice to spend time away from screens.
I have little tolerance for digital demands that diminish the idea of time, demanding instant response and engagement, making it seem like we must be connected or online all the time to function properly in our daily lives. Or to be abreast what is happening now.
I guarantee I didn’t miss anything important on Twitter in the past hour while writing this blog post.
I’d go crazy if my job demanded connectivity 24-7, like a hedge fund analyst acquaintance I met at a bachelor party in New Orleans, who had to wake up–or did he simply stay awake?–for a mandatory 3:00 am conference call with an overseas company to hear and react to their earnings report. It’s a new phenomenon that so many moments, each and every day, can be perceived or required as crucial. Rushkoff writes:
Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now — and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.
This idea of diminishment of the future and past, in addition to trying to process the onslaught of information is why I’m cautious when it comes to employing technology in my classroom. How do we, and our students, thoughtfully plan out and execute a goal or project–generally think thoughtfully about the future–when we obsess over technologies that act to compress everything to the now?
How do we value time–or do we even care to save it–if all that matters is the present moment?
Forbes magazines list of The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013is fascinating. Besides University Professor, most professions on the list do not seem to have inherent digital technology and time demands that extend beyond traditional work hours. Seamstress/Tailor. Jeweler. Hair Sylist. Librarian. Audiologist. There also seems to be a correlation between working with your hands, and not a screen/digital technologies, for lower stress.
I think this one reason why I thoroughly enjoy building, hunting, cooking, and growing things to balance out the stresses and time-demands of my digital life.
How does digital technology use or save your time? How much are you influenced by the pressure of now as it relates to digital technology? Do you attempt to save time during the day to engage more with a screen, or step away?