Maybe you’re old enough, like me, to remember back in the days before cell phones, smartphones, and other mobile devices that keep us connected all the time. Heck, maybe you remember the days before answering machines and voice mail. There are certainly times when I take a pause and wonder how I survived without the convenience of current mobile technology. There are also times when I take a pause and want to pull the plug or throw my phone against the wall because I’m always connected and seemingly plagued by endless interruptions. In the last year or so, I’ve found life considerably easier to take by just pulling the plug more often.
Mobile technology has certainly brought us to an era where we can be always connected and receive incoming signals if we choose to. The downside of that is that we can fall into a habit of letting that rule our lives if we are not careful. And, while the mobile lifestyle can add convenience, if we do let it rule our lives, it can add unneeded stress.
Apple is introducing some features (that others have had for some time) with iOS 6 (and Mountain Lion) that will start to allow us to take back some control over receiving phone calls and other signals. Do Not Disturb is one of those features, as are methods of ditching unwanted phone calls when you don’t want to take them.
All well and good. But I’m guessing just like these features are reactions to our inability to control our connected lives, we’ll see more features like this in the future. Just like with everything else new and innovative, we don’t understand all of the ramifications that new technological advances will eventually make available to us. Did anyone imagine email SPAM? Heck, did anyone imagine Junk Mail or unwanted phone solicitations?
My concern here is not that technology creates or allows these tension points. It’s that we fall into the trap of blaming the technology instead of ourselves when the features become bothersome, and wait for a similar technological solution to solve it for us. From one perspective that actually makes the technology more in control than it was before. The bottom line is something my father used to always say back in the day. Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it. And that puts the solution back in our hands and makes it our choice.