I do digital for a living – helping large companies to formulate their digital strategies. I use all forms of electronics in my personal life – iPhone, iPad, SlingBox, stream Netflix, etc. I’ve cancelled my newspaper and virtually all magazine subscriptions in favor of reading online. I’ve digitized probably 15,000 photos. All my CD/DVD’s were burned long ago and reside in a box in the attic somewhere, probably never to be looked at again. In fact, one my rightfully accuse me of being a digital junkie. In all facets, I live a highly digital life.
On a vacation a few years ago, the transition of digital into the mainstream banged me over the head. Littered around the pool were people reading their Kindle’s (and trying in vain to read an iPad in bright sunlight). Books were virtually nowhere to be found. In fact, I am still amazed when I take the train to New York how much it has changed from 10-15 years ago. Newspapers and magazines have been replaced by laptops, tablets and smartphones. Digital is everywhere.
My consumption of all things digital is even further exacerbated by owning a digital agency. The need to stay on top of constantly changing tools, technology, best practices and trends is relentless. Compound this with some very long days or just the time needed to catch up when the inflow slows (i.e. nights and weekends). Of course, this means more computer time including writing this article while my son plays Minecraft next to me.
Which leads me to my point. I wonder if my digital consumption is unhealthy or does it really only matter what is consumed not how? In other words, is reading a book on a tablet really any better or worse than reading a physical book? Or do we need to delineate between the great variety of uses a digital device affords (reading, learning, etc) and the mind sucking ones (games, mindless browsing)?
Of course I worry about the traditional concernes of digital – that at times it distracts from real world experiences. Especially in relation to raising a child or family relationships. But that’s not the sprit of the issue I am trying to raise here.
So what am I going to do about it? To be honest, I’m not sure. I guess the first step as they say is to recognize the situation. I do know, I will be buying a real, physical book on my next beach vacation! Perhaps a few digital blackouts are in order. I just don’t know, but I will try a few things – and be sure to share with you all what works!
So on that note, I did manage coaching a baseball game and working in the yard already today. I took this respite to not only write this article but also hide from the pollen for a bit. So back outside I go to enjoy a beautiful spring day here in Philadelphia. I may even leave my phone inside the house.