How many of you remember a childhood without computers and other electronic devices? While I was growing up, at our house, we had one giant, old school computer in our house that the whole family shared; it wasn’t until I turned 13 that I really knew how to use it. For me, in the early years computers weren’t much more than glorified word processors. Today many schools give laptops to every 6th grader.
The Internet wasn’t worth the wait. It took about 10 minutes to load a page. Today-information takes milliseconds to pass from place to place.
As for cell phones, I didn’t get my first flip phone until I was 15. No texting, no camera, and only to be used for emergency purposes. You know what? I didn’t mind the limited access to a computers and cell phone. I didn’t give it a second thought. I was busy doing other things, like spending time outside, talking face-to-face with actual people, and, gasp, using the land line to get a hold of my friends.
Today, we have an endless number of these devices right at our fingertips. Now, I am not saying that that is a bad thing. Technological advances are great and important for personal and business needs. However, I do think that my generation (hello, 90s babies!) and especially younger generations need to learn some time management skills. To be more specific, we need to manage to make time for more face- to- face interaction with other people.
Instead of meeting and chatting with people online, we should try to make more of a conscious effort to meet new people out in the community, or by joining groups that spark our interest. Having trouble putting down the cell phone? Perhaps this will help or inspire you.
Here’s the journey I started two years ago (and it really helped).
Growing up I was very shy, preferring to sit in my room and watch TV then go out and really socialize. This continued through high school and even college. I got by, but I also knew I wanted to be successful in the business world. Being shy just wasn’t going to cut it. So, in the spring of 2013, I made a change and decided to do something about it and push my limits.
I flew all the way around the world to Australia (where I knew no one) to participate in a Study Abroad program for four months. I literally had to disconnect myself from all technology for the first two weeks of the trip, and it turned out to be two of the best weeks of my life. Granted, for those weeks, I was busy being a tourist with my new found friends. Being away from the computer and phone really made me think about the importance of putting myself out there, exploring the community and people around me. From there on out, I elected to not have a cell phone during the four month period. The only technology I had was a computer and spotty Wi-Fi. Since I was hardly ever in my room, I hardly missed a thing.
While in Australia I volunteered at a few different events. I met a ton of new people, had real conversations, and learned that putting yourself out there – whether it’s volunteering or civic engagement – is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do.
Since being back in Maine I’ve made it a point to explore my community more. I attend more events, and volunteer when I have the time. Currently, I am part of a volunteer group called YPLAA, where we plan events in our community to bring professionals together to network and have fun.
Here at Provider Power employees are encouraged to volunteer, even on company time. We are providing numerous opportunities to interact with non-profit groups, and get hands on experience with these organizations. Volunteerism is part of the corporate culture here.
Last summer I volunteered with one of the Electricity Maine Power To Help partners, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, where I helped kids learn about and cook nutritious meals As a company we are active with the United Way of Androscoggin County, regularly participating in their Day of Caring.
I am blessed to work for a company that values the importance of volunteerism and networking. I’ve met more people in the past two years than I have at any other point before that, and the rewards are endless. Volunteering and helping others, while putting myself out there and exposing my vulnerabilities has helped me to personally grow and gain a new level of confidence.
My point is this. Taking time to disconnect from technology can help us connect in other ways. Freeing your mind free from cell phone notifications and social media updates can and is a good thing. It is good for our own personal growth, as well as the growth of the community we are in. Don’t get me wrong, I see the irony in writing this in a blog. So, when you are done reading this, I encourage shut down your computer, and put down the phone. You will be glad you did.