Monday, 16 April 2012

A Life Without Laptops

Today is a day off for me but it's not a day for relaxing. I've got a to-do list with 20 or so different things on it that need doing sooner rather than later (mostly because I've been putting the not urgent ones off so long that they've become urgent now!). It's no surprise to me that most of these things are computer related; whether it's replying to an email, doing online banking or researching future projects. Only 5 things on my list have nothing to do with a computer, and even then two of them are phone calls. 

Sometimes technology amazes me, like when I walk virtually through a town to check directions before I visit a place, but more and more my laptop and phone are becoming things of guilt, weighing me down with all the things I need to do and people I have to reply to. Almost everyone I know has a laptop nowadays, many have laptops, work laptops and phones with internet. It's getting harder and harder to disconnect from the wonders of the web with new updates flashing in every few minutes and pages being refreshed for up to the second news. But how much good is it doing us all?

I may be part of the last generation who remembers their first family computer as something purely for games. Before internet (or at least before children used the internet) the computer was just another toy, something that switched off once you were done. And now I often long to hide my computers and phone away at weekends and just do actual stuff, not virtual stuff. Planting flowers, cooking cakes, going for walks, even just washing up! Time without technology is a rare and precious moment for me now. If all the personal computers in the world were turned off, how much energy would we save? Since laptops are quite efficient machines I expect individually not very much, but with millions of them globally I'm sure it would have an impact. And I think people might be a little happier with a little less screen time too. 

Technology's not evil, in fact I don't think it can even be described as completely bad for the environment. How many meetings are now done via Skype rather than driving to offices and how much paper is saved by emails, online documents and ebooks? It's also been fantastic for finding out more about our environment and how to protect it. Some of the best green campaigns I've seen have been online ones, like this, this and this. But we need to make sure we don't forget the real world too. I wouldn't want a life without laptops, but a little more time doing and less time staring at screens would be nice. So, I'm going to finish this to-do list and then get out into the real world again, doing things that don't need electricity like crafts, walks and feeding the birds. Why not break free from your technology for a little while today, see how free you feel! 

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