Editorial: Making time to unplug

Technology is an essential part of the news business today, particularly for those of us who are involved in providing daily online news. There are the interviews to record, the endless emails to answer, the photos to take, the tweets to be tweeted and the Facebook page which must be monitored and updated frequently. Oh, and there is the video footage to be shot, processed and uploaded to YouTube from time to time.

We’re not alone in this, nor are news people alone in our slavish devotion to the iPhone, iPad, and other technological gizmos that have made our lives more efficient and yet deprived us of more and more time as we do more and more work because we can do it so efficiently. It’s common across many professions.

Using technology for work and using technology for leisure is fine. But so are alcohol and chocolate bars when taken in moderation. Sadly, we do not take technology in moderation any longer. Every boop, beep and ding sends us salivating like Pavlov’s dog to see what worthless tidbit of social media can hold our ever-dwindling attention spans for a micro second or two. “Oh, look. Someone has said something snarky on Twitter about the driving habits of Edmontonians. Now what were you saying about your mother’s surgery?”

There was a great discussion at brunch this past Sunday: a conversation about the etiquette of using the cell phone while eating, and how too many of us look at our smart phone screens with the frequency an impatient person looks at their watch during a meeting with a verbose and boring person.

At times we need to be connected to the great swallower of time and devourer of souls that is the Internet. But there are times we need to unplug; times we need to simply reconnect with one another on that personal level that existed before we all wandered through grocery stores with our cell phones at the ready. Before we were all wallowing in our own self-importance with a chunk of metal against our ear and our personal conversations loudly shared with the couple trying to find the best avocado for that new foodie recipe they’ve been dying to try.

But we have a chance to mend our ways. Family Day weekend is around the corner. Don’t walk and text; you’ll run right into it. What better time to disconnect? What better time to take the tablet and the cell phone and the other things that bing, ping and ring and simply put them away for 24 hours. You can pretend it is practice for the techno-zombie apocalypse – the one that will happen when a sizeable electromagnetic pulse takes your addiction away for several days. Oh, the horror!

Monday, Feb. 20 is Unplug from Technology Day. The Town of Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services department will be once again encouraging residents to unplug from their electronics and to plug into conversations with one another.

We’ll have details in an upcoming edition of The Morinville News and will be unplugging ourselves from our online readers that day in support of good old fashioned conversation.

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3 Comments

  1. Dear Editor,

    I think that a day unplugged is a great idea.

    One thing I would also love to see is a “respect for those who aren’t plugged in” day, everyday. Every work day I ride the LRT and have started to notice a relatively new trend – more and more people are setting their headphones and ear pieces aside so that they can “share” their podcasts and music with everyone. And this is not aimed at today’s youth. The offenders are all ages.

    I can understand if I’m sitting one seat away or beside you and I can hear your Return to the 80’s or Death Rap, but from 10-15 feet away? If I can sing along with the lyrics, it is probably too loud. I won’t ask the person if they are deaf because I already know the answer. Behaviour such as this sends a clear message to their fellow commuters – “It’s MY right to listen to MY music as loud as I want and I don’t need to respect anyone else.” How times have changed.

    I thought about changing seats so I could share the video with them, but that would be rude.

    Maybe unplugging one day will start people talking again. I wonder if Edmonton will have something like this???

    Great idea that should happen more than once a year. People are losing the ability to talk and relate to one another.

  2. It’s just a tad ironic that many of the people who read your post are “plugged in”.

    • The irony is not missed. We just hope they are not plugged in reading it whilst in conversation with others or while walking or driving.

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