Monday, July 25, 2016

The Need to Disconnect

Yep, it happened the other night.  The weather was beautiful, steaks on the barbecue, glass of tasty Pinot Noir.  My wife in one chair, me in the other, sitting around our patio table.  WE BOTH HAD OUR PHONES OUT, SCROLLING THROUGH SOME APP - Facebook for Lisa, Flipboard for me... All at once we looked up at each other and almost in unison said, "This is STUPID.  We are out here, have time alone, and we are both on our phones!"

We immediately put our phones down and had a conversation.  And it felt darn good - to SPEAK, to be disconnected from an electronic device that has become an extension of our being!

I realize the power of the internet.  I love the information that I have available to me at all times - literally at my finger tips.  But what are we becoming?  People glued to our phones and devices all the time?  It's anti-social and unhealthy.  My eyesight is diminishing.  My attention span is awful.  I walk into a room and everybody is on their phone - including me!  This has to end!

Lately, when I go to the gym and workout, I have been leaving my phone in the locker.  I need time away from it.  I have been making a conscious choice not to be connected all of the time - and it's HARD, but it feels so good.

From the late (and great) comedian George Carlin:

"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."
We all need to reflect about our tech use and perhaps disconnect - otherwise we will lose our personal connections and relationships.... life will pass us by.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Recent Thoughts on Social Media

I admit it - I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Facebook and Instagram to "celebrate" and share life's events with friends and family.  Twitter as a professional tool with colleagues and my network of educators that I have met or with whom I learn.

Lately I feel more and more that social media is just out of control.  I support the first amendment and free speech - I truly do.  But social media has opened up an avenue where we are not being sensitive to others; we are not understanding how a post can be interpreted.  Some are using social media to celebrate murders, deaths, or even plan illegal acts.  It's crazy.

I think this recent election season is showing us two things: social media can be used as a powerful tool to engage people to think and get out there and vote; it has also been used in such ugly ways.  "Crooked Hillary" comments, blatant racism towards President Obama, sexism towards Hillary - even many negative things towards Trump.  When did we lose our class as Americans?

Out of respect to the tradition of election season and the democratic process, I watched last night's opening to the Republican National Convention.  And I was saddened - saddened that we are so divided as a country and instead of working together collectively for solutions, many are pointing the fingers, making excuses, and spewing hate.  I grew up a "Reagan Republican."  I later changed to the Democratic party, and after last night, I am sure glad I did. The current GOP is spewing hate and pointing fingers.  I have not heard any of the speakers, the presumptive Republican nominee, or the Vice President nominee present a plan for fixing our challenges.  They want to hold NATO and others accountable - bring American jobs back, etc -- but HOW?  I pray that next week's Democratic National Convention demonstrates respect to the process and all involved, whether we agree with their points of view or not.

Given the violence that has erupted lately - police officers being killed, suicide bombings, potential coup in Turkey, I am wondering what our future as a world holds.  Are we simply going to self destruct because we haven't learned from the past?  If so, I am sure it will be on social media.  I cannot give up my hope that one day, we will not judge each other based on race or religion.  One day we will look at and treat each other equally.... one day.  Maybe we can start by being more kind to one another via social media.  Maybe we can be sensitive with our words and actions..... Maybe.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Future of Shopping?

I will be candid:  I hate shopping.  I dislike going to a mall, going from store to store, spending time in malls, etc.  Maybe because I am frugal. Maybe it is because I have a busy life and feel this is a waste of time.  I'm not sure.

Yes, I find myself using, Groupon and like services often.  Is it because of the convenience or the deals?  Must be.  As an Amazon Prime member, I have the ability to find what I am looking for relatively easy, get free two-day shipping, and free returns.  Additionally, with Amazon Prime, I get Prime Video and Prime Music.  I don't have to subscribe to Apple Music; Netflix and Hulu are "affordable options" but think about it.  For $109 a year (about $9 per month) Amazon meets many needs.   They also provide online storage with Amazon Photo and other services.  I wonder if they are losing money....

Online shopping.  Who ever would have thought it would come this far.  Looking for something special or unique?  Something you purchased overseas?  The gap has been closed.  We have access to pretty much anything now.  At any time!   

Obviously shopping malls and stores will always be around.  I wonder what they will look like as we move forward.  For now, supply chaining is working well - started by WalMart, perfected by corporations like Amazon and Google.  Crazy world we live in.