The Five Minute Rule

Technology, like cotton, has become the fabric of my life, and most of the time I feel brazenly naked. I assume I am just overwhelmed with the plethora of possibilities, but who knows, I could be an exhibitionist. When I walk into Macy’s, I feel the same overwhelming anxiety with all the choices, the designers, and the colors. I want to run to Lucy’s, where my options are black yoga pants, black sports bras, and black tank tops. I love the way Henry Ford thinks, “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.” I can manage life when my choices are limited. Technology is like the Mall of America, something to avoid at all costs, and you can never find parking. 

I am aware the only way I keep in contact with my children is through technology. I am grateful. I Skype with Tony in Australia, I FaceTime with Julie, Nic, and Audrey almost daily, I text Dante just to locate him, and of course Kelley is all about apps like Snap Chat, Instagram, What’s, and Tumbler. It works for her. Now that I list all these things I’m feeling pretty damn savvy. I’ll be closing down my office at Notre Dame in a few days, but come August a whole new wave of technology will emerge, and like it or not, I’ll have to define my space. What’s solid, what’s trending, and what’s a waste of time. Reminds me of the last lines of a poem by William Stafford called Deciding, “What’s God, what’s world, what’s gold.”

I still use the phone to contact my Mom and my sister. I remember when the telephone was considered a new technology. My Dad established a five minute rule in the house. He was adamant that you use the phone for brief communications (he would be obsessed with Twitter), never during dinner, or after nine in the evening. The phone was for making arrangements. It’s a modem for relationship not the facilitator. We thought he was ridiculous. I remember when I was in high school (Why can I remember my childhood but not what I need at the grocery store?) and the phone rang during dinner. I was expecting a call from Larry and leaped out of my chair to answer. The only phone in the house was located in the kitchen, so I turned my back to the family, and moved as far away as the cord would allow. Right after I said hello the phone went dead. My Dad had reached up and pressed down the receiver. Call ended. No explanations and he refused me an apology phone call. I cried through the rest of dinner. Thank God Larry was able to look past these foibles and not drop me like a bad call. 

I think my Dad would have loved FaceTime, Snap Chat, and  Twitter but he didn’t live to experience these new technologies. I remember watching the movie It’s Complicated with my Dad, he thought it was a descent movie, but he said the whole Skype scene was too implausible. I said, “Dad, that is real, you can talk with people live on a computer.” He just smiled. I think he knew technology would completely dominate our lives without the five minute rule. Now I wish he was around to disconnect me.

I watch my granddaughter grab for the iPhones laying next to every person she loves. She is aware of there importance and she wants to be involved. I can’t help but wonder about the technological advances of the future and what they will mean to the people I love. Bill Gates says, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” Our first teachers are our parents, mine was wise enough to establish a five minute rule, and I’m beginning to appreciate, “What’s God, what’s world, what’s gold.”

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein

I want to say Hello to loyal followers from Russia, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Slovakia, France, Poland, Portugal, and Canada. Thanks for reading Living in the Gap. I’d love to connect. Drop a note in the comments. 

There is no five minute rule on reading blogs: Keep it Brief or An Evolutionary Glitch

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