Everyone has their “aha” moments, their epiphanies seeped in the sudden realization that a change is needed. It doesn’t matter what these moments are about, only that they serve us with a great deal of value in helping us direct our lives.
Randi Zuckerberg’s book, Dot Complicated, was released this week, and with it a new call-to-action on acknowledging our Dot Complicated moments, or the times when we realize we need to unplug, rethink, and adjust the role technology plays in our lives.
Technology has historically been my friend. I consider myself an early adopter, and I love seeing the way bright minds put their heads together to innovate on the biggest problems facing our world, like the TacoCopter. I started using gmail and Facebook both when they were invite-only, and I’m always tuned in on what’s being born out of the collective tech knowledge. Like most people I’m always signed in to my various social media accounts, and more often than not that’s where social plans formulate, rather than through text or phone.
Then there are those moments. When a text goes unanswered, and my mind races with all the reasons this person must hate me, which is why I’m not hearing from them. When having eye contact during a conversation becomes both surprising and memorable. When I ask my boyfriend if we can go out to dinner just so we can sit across from one another, instead of side by side on the couch. When I’m in tangible discomfort after forgetting my phone at home, and the activities of my friends on my Facebook feed fill me with a wild jealousy I never knew to be possible.
It’s little moments like these that are adding to my saturation point with technology. The gift of information access is a double-edged sword that cuts right through your perception of yourself. You didn’t know you could scare yourself until you’re curled up in bed wondering why your friends don’t text you back, and being mad at yourself for being upset about it. As if it matters.
The good thing about getting caught up in the drama created by digital innovation is when you get that breath of fresh air. That Dot Complicated moment. When I stepped off the plane to Israel with 39 strangers I turned my phone off, as it lacked an international plan. Thus followed 10 days of truly living in the moment – of riding camels through the desert, of genuinely getting to know the people around me, and excelling at the art of getting lost.
The company I worked for at the time got bought by Google while I was there, and nothing so big has mattered so little to me. It didn’t matter because I wasn’t there. They asked us all at the end of the trip what was the most significant part of our experience, and I knew right away mine was being given an opportunity to be a person again, a real person who wasn’t constantly keyed into what everyone else was doing at all times.
Technology provides portals into the lives of other people, lives that are curated to be shared mind you, and that is wonderful. What I’m learning though, is it’s not the end-all. There is value in unplugging, in looking into the eyes of another soul while conversing with them, in sharing experiences unfiltered. And that even though it may be uncomfortable at first, just like any detox, you feel better at the other side.