Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Avoiding excess -- blogging, social networking, games and soaps

Modern technology has a tendency to be seductive. Unfortunately, it also has the same tendency to be adictive. When does an activity become a habit and when does a habit become an addiction? Do you feel vaguely uncomfortable if you miss your morning email/Facebook/Twitter fix? Or do you actually panic and have an uncontrolable urge to turn on the comuputer and check the latest news and updates? Genealogists are no more immune to tech addiction than any other group or individuals. You may look down your nose and a younger person's constant gaming habit, but at the same time be inseperable from the Facebook stream. You may have resented your mother's addition to soap operas, but now you have the same problem with Facebook.

Now we all know genealogy is highly addictive, especially to those who have the genealogy "gene." But the problem is that the tech addiction just might end up interferring with our preferable genealogy addiction. Wouldn't that be a tragedy? First, we have to be able to identify our tech addition. I suggest looking at the following:

Do you have more than three network connected devices, such as a computer, a tablet, an iPod or a smartphone?
Do you turn on the computer or other device before you get out of bed in the morning?
Do you find yourself going to be with your smartphone or iPad?
Do you read blogs and Facebook while you eat?
Do you find yourself in meetings, like church or social events, checking your email or Facebook instead of talking to people or listening to a speaker?
Do you have your smartphone on or laptop going while you watch a movie on TV?

There are of course other issues. Now we have to ask the ultimate question, is all this necessarily bad? Addictions always have a negative connotation, but isn't there the possiblity that we can become accustumed to a different lifestyle that completely incorporates technology? Is that bad or good? I look at it from the standpoint of production, personal interaction and work. Can I maintain a reasonable level of contact with the real world of friends and relatives and still be deeply involved in technology? Does my tech habit interfere or enhance my ability to pursue my family's history? If I were a journeyman carpenter, I might use a hammer and saw all day, but that does not mean I am addicted to their use. On the other hand, if I spend my days watching the Facebook stream and making comments instead of pursuing some more productive activities, maybe my tech addition is harmful.

My Grandfather worked for newspapers all his life. Every day he would come home from work and sit and read the newspaper. I just remember that, I don't feel like that was a problem at all. But had he neglected to speak to any of us or ignored what else was going on, it might have become an issue. Do we all need to evaluated our relationship to technology from time to time?

1 comment:

  1. I check Facebook and Google+ a dozen times a day for just a few minutes each time and only if I'm not on some hot family history trail. I find that genealogy research is still my addiction of choice and I am often so intensely focused that I don't check the social networks until I am ready to quit for the day (or night). Social networking has been a major enhancement to moving my research forward, plus, it's a great comfort to me to be surrounded by so many people who completely understand my addiction.