Friday, August 23, 2013

Technology Rocks!

Cheesy title, I know. But isn't it true? I know social media often gets a bad reputation for overtaking our lives and the false sense of intimacy it gives us. And while there may be truth to those arguments, I have noticed lately that technology--including social media--does far more good in my life than bad.

As I've mentioned several times, Terry has to travel for work for extended periods of time. He usually leaves for three or four weeks, sometimes coming home for a break and leaving again. He travels to the East Coast, so the time difference plus the extra work make life rather difficult for us. Aside from barely getting to speak to each other--when he finally finishes with work and dinner it's usually time for him to get to bed--Terry's also under a lot of extra pressure because his work is time-sensitive (obviously, the longer it takes to complete the work, the longer they have to stay!). Plus I'm back at home, lonely and trying my best to keep up with everything out on this end--car maintenance, cat care, shuffling the cars around for street cleaning day, etc. I think if he was gone for only a week at a time it wouldn't feel so bad, but the extended absences make things particularly tough.

I have to pause here and commend all the spouses and partners of military members who go on deployments for months at a time. I struggle with even a few weeks of long-distance; I can't imagine how difficult it would be for much longer. Kudos to you if you deal with long-distance! (Also, HOW do you deal with it??) One of my best friends and her now-fiance did the long-distance thing (3,000 miles apart!) for quite awhile after college, and I'm still in awe of how they made it work!

Thankfully, technology has made these long work trips far more tolerable. Terry and I still keep up with our daily e-mails (we always e-mail each other throughout the day, so it's nice to be able to maintain at least one of our usual routines). We also of course text and call whenever possible. But I'm most grateful for Google Hangout. We usually just talk on the phone, but once or twice a week while he's away we'll actually video chat. It makes such a difference to be able to see each other and interact like we normally would at home. Those short conversations make all the difference in keeping my sanity.

Besides keeping in touch with my very favorite person, I'm amazed at how technology has affected so many other aspects of my life. For example, I'm helping to organize my ten year high school reunion, and the invite list grew from just over one hundred to almost four hundred in a matter of days. Way to go, Facebook!

Social media also makes it easy to stay up to date on people's lives. I'm notoriously terrible at remembering and acknowledging birthdays, and I'm thankful to social media for at least providing the opportunity for me to double check when my friends' birthdays are. Then I am fully aware that I am missing the birthday instead of just being oblivious. 

Plus--maybe this isn't a problem for you if you don't stress out when you see people you haven't seen in awhile--I find it helpful to be able to check up on what people are up to. I know, I know, I should ask them and be aware of it already, but I'm just going to be honest: I have no confidence in my memory. It's not that I have a bad memory; I just don't trust what I remember. So I might remember that you recently started a new job, but for some reason I panic that maybe that was someone else. Or maybe that was a year ago. Or maybe you actually just quit your job. So social media allows me to confirm (or relearn, as is sometimes the case) what I think I know. Trust me, the conversations would be far more awkward on my end otherwise.

Social media also provides a phenomenal motivator for me fitness-wise. Just today I completed a GPP Fitness workout that Bobbi posted to her Instagram account. (30 seconds squat + press, 30 seconds bent rows, repeat for 20 minutes--hello, sweaty mess!) Reading other people's fitness blogs or even just seeing that a friend went for a run makes me more excited about my next workout. I think I imagine us all holding hands and working out together. Is that weird? Okay, ignore that last part. Also, most workouts would be really difficult to do if we were holding hands. 

While I'm on a roll, let's talk about some other fun uses for technology:
  • Teaching! My students crave variety, so I throw in YouTube clips, PowerPoints, you name it. 
  • Knowledge. I love to learn; I constantly find myself on random websites that teach me strange, superfluous facts about subjects in which I really have no business being interested. Wikipedia is one of the modern wonders, if you ask me.
  • Organization. Terry and I share a Google calendar and have not had a scheduling conflict since 2007. (Date unconfirmed.)
  • Travel. Terry loves maps and public transportation systems, so he downloads apps of each city's metro or subway. We never get lost! Plus, we use Rick Steve's free iTunes walking tours wherever we go and learn a ton.
  • Oh, and who can deny the awesomeness of ecards? 

What's your favorite use of technology? 

(I would have loved to add far more photos to this post, but I am--yes, ironically--experiencing major Internet issues tonight. Ah, well.)


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