Weekly Editorial

Finding Balance in the Digital Age

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • March 4, 2024

The Insider_Weekly_editorial_3.4.24

Most headlines these days seem to revolve around technology: Apple pulling the plug on its car project; Microsoft partnering with OpenAI; and rovers landing on Mars are just a few from the past week alone. I’m certainly not surprised by our obsession with technology. We are living in the Information Age.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. On the one hand, I love new technology. I bought a Palm Pilot the day it came out. I was a very early Blackberry user. I was on Facebook when you still needed a .edu email address to join. I literally use apps to keep my life organized and to keep me entertained.

As a journalist, technology has made my life so much easier. When I was a daily newspaper reporter and needed to look up a federal court case, I had to call our Washington, D.C. bureau and have someone physically go to the courthouse, where they would copy the case files and mail them to me. Today, it takes me seconds to look up a case. I used to physically write notes during interviews that I would have to transcribe and rewrite to use for a story. Today, I use a transcription service that accurately saves me hours and hours of my time.

I’m sure you use tools like CET Commercial Interiors, Cyncly, INDEAL Spaces, KiSP and MRL. All of them make your life easier by improving your efficiency. They are needed tools and our industry is lucky to have them.

On the other hand, I hate the intrusiveness of technology. I detest alerts on my phone. It bothers me when people assume I’m available at all hours of the day simply because I am connected. I quit Facebook a few years ago because it was such a time suck. I’m so glad to be rid of it.

Still, I’m fascinated by the idea of technology. My second favorite movie is Blade Runner (the original with Harrison Ford, though I like the new one too) since I love to ponder the idea of computers and machines becoming sentient.

In short, I’m a high-tech, low-tech guy.

Though I probably use Spotify more than 90% of its users (according to the year-end round up I receive from the music app), I still have a large vinyl record collection. Even though I book meetings using an app and organize my calendar on Outlook, I use an old-school Filofax to really keep track of things, physically writing down appointments, reminders and meeting notes.

For years, I used a reel mower instead of a gas-powered mower to cut my grass (we completely got rid of grass in our yard, so I don’t mow at all now). I enjoy the process of sharpening my own knives. I like baking bread and pastries.

All of this got me thinking: What do all of you do to balance your life when it comes to technology? Do you have any tips or tricks you use to disconnect? How do you balance the demands of technology with your desire to unplug?

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