Tri-fold poster board. Colorful paper. Letter stencils. Copious amount of glue.
Science fair time in the Norman household circa mid 1990s.
Fast forward a few years. Printer shooting out paper. Not yet knowing that this was the world's sloooooowest printer and therefore happy for my 10 pages to print in 10 minutes.
Still science fair time but now my board was more polished. Instead of re-writing my mistakes I could simply backspace and move on.
Fast forward over a decade. Three computer screens. Building images in illustrator. Printing a 3x4 foot glossy printed poster in less than 1 minute.
Conference time and I was prepped and ready to go. Highly technical and complex experiments distilled in to a few panels on a neatly roll-able, high glossy paper.
They say technology makes life easier. As a scientist, I'd have to agree. I remember doing experiments that took several hours and just a few years later doing the same experiments in under thirty minutes. All because of scientific and technological advances.
Now, I work to commercialize technology. Getting it out of academic laboratories and in to companies that can develop those technologies for actual consumer use. I have to love technology. It is quite literally my profession.
If technology stops, if science stops, I'm out of a job.
But, the fact is, I don't always love technology. I actually think I might love technology less than the average person.
Take my car for example. I have never, in my 28 years on this earth, used cruise control. None of my cars have ever had it and I don't see myself using it in the future. My car doesn't even have an unlock/lock remote. I actually like it this way.
I won't be getting an Alexa, or Echo, or whatever speaking machine is out there. I won't be talking to my phone unless there's an actual human being on the line.
Call me professionally: technology advanced and personally: technology moderate. Lukewarm if you will.
I love technology and it makes my life easier. It allows me to be less wasteful, more productive, and efficient, but I don't find the need to use unnecessary amounts of it in my life.
And lately, I'm finding technology is hindering my work life balance. Tipping the scale in favor of work and throwing life to the wind.
Technology has altered the way we communicate. In lightning speed, we know what is happening. Our watches can tell us when we have a new e-mail, call, or text message. But worse, the expectation with this speed of communication is that you should in-turn communicate just as quickly.
Remember that e-mail that comes in at 9pm on a Saturday night with a question? Yeah, you need to answer it. Or, at least that's what that e-mail signifies. If they're working at 9pm on a Saturday night, then why aren't you? Slacker. By the time you get in to work on Monday they've moved on to the next big project and you weren't involved.
The workaholic in me SCREAMS to answer these e-mails. Right. Now. Because we all know the world may implode if I don't. I may miss out on that project. I may miss out on that promotion. I may be labeled as not a hard worker.
But truly, all I've done is dig myself a hole. Because now everyone knows I will answer. I will respond and I will work. I am a machine. A product of the technology of my era. I. Will. Work.
Until I didn't. Until I was sitting on vacation and a wave of 40+ e-mails came in saying you need to do this thing now. And I just... didn't. I didn't do that thing. In fact, I uncoupled my smart watch from my phone and put my phone on silent.
Because life is too important. My sanity is too important. My friend's wedding is too important. My husband and my pets are too important.
So for now, on nights and weekends, I'm declining technology... at least of the mobile communication variety.
I implore you to do the same.