It’s at the Scene of the Crime, but it’s not the Criminal

People are saying technology is making us stupid. Technology is shattering our attention. Technology is ruining our children. Technology is making us busier than ever.

Taking that train of thought a step further: technology can fix the problem. I believe we can make smarter email and smarter phones – and we should. It just won’t fix the problem.

We can think of technology like cupcakes. The cupcake is at the scene of the crime, but it’s not the criminal. We can make smarter cupcakes — sugar free, higher in fiber, but that doesn’t seem to be making any difference. The cupcake isn’t saying, “Eat five of me.” We make the choice. “I’ll have one and take a walk. I won’t have one.” Or, “I’ll have five.”

Why will it be different with technology? Technology is at the scene of the crime. The criminal is that voice inside of each of us that says, “Do it all. Have it all. Don’t stop to consider what you’re doing or why. Run fast and do as much as you can.”

Sharon, a former professor turned consultant, says it always seems easier to respond to emails than to work on the project files sitting right in front of her. Is she making this choice because picking up a project file requires focused attention and emailing requires less of a commitment? Or is there a buzz of completion and immediate gratification each time the send button is pressed in contrast to the delayed gratification from a meatier project?

The technology is at the scene of the crime – a weapon of mass communication turning productivity opportunities into an excuse for procrastination. How do the choices we make in each moment, about what we choose to do and what we choose to ignore, tell the story of what matters to us?

When a day begins and ends with a list of action items, it can lack a sense of purpose. Without a sense of purpose, we have no framework to guide our choices.
As we plan our day, while reviewing what we hope to do, we can ask ourselves: Why is each of these things on the list? What can I do to bring into focus what really matters to me? What can I exclude that would allow me closer alignment with my sense of purpose and my intentions?

Technology, just like cupcakes, is there — for our pleasure. The crime only happens when we forget our sense of purpose and fail to make choices as to what we include or exclude.

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