How Not to Be Alone

Jonathan Safran Foer examines the role of technology and our connectedness.

Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat. My daily use of technological communication has been shaping me into someone more likely to forget others. The flow of water carves rock, a little bit at a time. And our personhood is carved, too, by the flow of our habits.

I’ve been trying to stay connected but not let it rule my life by becoming very focused when I use it. I rule my tech, it doesn’t rule me. It seems most people get into trouble when they let it rule their lives. I don’t need 40 notifications blasting at me, so I turn them off. If I’m out with a friend, I don’t need to be texting someone else or tweeting. My time is my time and just because you have my email or phone number doesn’t mean that I have to let you interrupt me whenever you choose.

I had to set up those rules for myself because I have a somewhat addictive personality. Tech intrusion got really bad for me, and on my trip to New Zealand I realized really how obnoxious I’d let it become. I was tweeting and texting instead of exploring this awesome place. It was nice to have 2 months away from my normal life to address it. When I travel now, I spend more time focusing on the things I’m doing than sharing every last little bit of info about the activity. Similar to the article a few weeks ago asking if people really care about a site’s latest news; I think the same question could posed of our own activities.