I’m technologically challenged. Okay, that’s an understatement. Really, I’m a closet technophobe who did well enough with smart phones and computers until everything began communicating with everything else in some secret-love-fest way with me missing out on the love. I feel as if someone stole all of the blankets in the wee hours of the night and now I find myself waking up freezing! Calling out blindly, “Hello? Hey guys! Can you show me the love because I’m not feeling it? I’m in the dark and I’m freezing my ass off over here. Um … hellllloooooooo??? Anybody?”
But there’s nothing. Because they all whisper secretly to each other. And if you’re in the inner circle, well, you don’t even know that there are old turds like me growing foggier and foggier by the day. Everything in our house used to speak the same language. My language. A language I could get my head around. But then we added and purchased and upgraded and apparently our operating system is about 10-years-old because all of these magical things truly are magical and can sync and tango together effortlessly. But not in my house.
In my house, the clicker needs shaking … and a little thwacking … to change channels. I called to order a new one but I was asked to read numbers and codes and press things and then 45 minutes later I was told that they would now communicate and my remote would work. But it doesn’t. And frankly, I don’t want to be robbed of another hour, to call back and say, “Um. Remember when I told you that the remote control rattles like something’s loose inside? I think that’s the problem. Can I please just have a new one now?”
The irony is that these devices are supposed to make our lives easier. They’re supposed to save us time. And I guess that they would if I knew the secret-love-language. But I don’t.
Rob sometimes knows the language. He’s a master of Spotify and on road trips we make wonderful playlists together. Each of us picking a song with him finding it on Spotify and uploading it? Downloading it? I don’t know. I can’t get Spotify to work on my devices. In part this is probably because I don’t know my password. But it’s more than that. Really it’s because I hate reading directions. When I get a new gadget I do one of two things, I either let it sit in the box for over a year (I have a fantastic bike computer sitting in its box since last Christmas.) waiting until I’m ready to deal with it. Or I tear the damn thing open and start pressing everything. I fuddle my way through it and get it to work well enough.
Rob’s had his new Garmin Edge bike computer working since last Christmas. It talks to his phone and when he heads out for a ride he can email me a request to track him. And I have! He’s a little yellow dot on a map. I know where he is, how fast he’s going. Heck, I could probably figure out his heart rate and if he’s stopped to pee but really that might be too much information. And maybe that’s just it — it’s all just too much information.
A year ago I opened up my Garmin Forerunner 920XT-Super-Watch immediately because I was desperate. I pretended to scan the directions but truthfully, I just assumed it was close enough to my broken Garmin 910XT-Mediocre-Watch and muddled my way through. Pressing random things. Scrolling up and down and hoping for the best … and it worked well enough … for a year.
A month ago, Rob got his new Garmin 920XT Super-Amazing-Watch and his watch tracks his steps, measures his sleep cycles, sends love notes to his phone and tells him if he has a text, a call or an email. At first I was dumbfounded, “Your watch does that?! But how? We have the same watch. Mine doesn’t do that!” He smiled at me, “I set it up. You have to set it up.” I don’t even know what that means …
Just the other day, my Super-Watch — which was functioning like my Mediocre-Watch — stopped working. It probably was jealous and wanted Rob to set it up and wear it in all of its glory. I can see now that it was a slow decline and things that were helpful to me were starting to be omitted from my data, but I could live with that. It worked well enough. However, when it stopped tracking the things I needed it to track: my swims, my rides and my runs, I had to step it up a bit and figure it out. With that, I shut my computer off for the first time in a year. I acquired the Garmin App that Rob had already uploaded(?) downloaded(?) via the love-code-language for my phone. (Let’s just say that the App pictures really help a lot and having a 10-year-old who is a whisperer himself saved me.) I reloaded the software on my laptop. Turned things on and off a bunch of times. Pressed some buttons and hoped for the best.
Within minutes of finishing everything I got an email from my coach saying, “I’m guessing your heart rate on your run data isn’t right?” (He knows me well!) And I was shocked. “You got my workout!? But I didn’t even plug my watch in.” Apparently it’s now part of the whispering-love-party. “Yay! I did it. Now I just need my heart-rate monitor to work and then I’ll really be unstoppable!”
Without much effort at all, I now have a watch that chimes and dings and buzzes. It tells me when my phone is ringing. It tells me when I have a text. It even tells me when I need to MOVE! Really. It does. Take yesterday, for example, when I was doing a two-hour ride on my bike, it started buzzing and chiming and dinging and flashing: “MOVE!” I couldn’t believe it. “Are you freaking kidding me?! I’m sweating my ass off over here with a racing heart rate and you’re telling me to MOVE! Screw you.” I thought as I pedaled harder. It ignored me and chirped again: “MOVE!” “Piss off!” I panted.
“My watch is broken.” I said to Rob later that night. “I think I need a new one.” “What’s wrong?” He asked. “It told me to move when I was riding my bike!” I exclaimed while stomping my foot down and rolling my eyes. “Really?” He asked calmly. “That’s odd. Did you sync it with your bike?” “WHAT!?! NO! I have to sync it with my bike? Forget it. I’m just going to ignore it. I know when I’m moving or not!”
Sometimes technology is a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. But really, when it comes down to it, I don’t think we need electronic things telling us what we need to do. Shouldn’t we just know when we need to get up and move our bodies? I think so. How about when we’re hungry? We rely on our clocks to tell us that too — it’s noon. Time for lunch. What if you want to eat at 1:00? What if you just peed but you have to pee again? Do you get up and MOVE!, or no? Do you need permission from your watch?
We live in a time where we have the world at our fingertips. We can connect with someone thousands of miles away in an instant. How remarkable is that? And yet, with this technology and so many resources to inform us, we so easily relinquish our power. Our inner knowing. All of a sudden there are so many experts out there and so many things that are “smart.”
My daughter was so sick the other day and I asked her to take her temperature. She barely had a fever and I had to bite back my words, “You don’t have much of a fever so you must not be very sick, Zoe.” Comparing her fever to her brothers’ fevers and almost inadvertently telling her — “You don’t know your own body; this thermometer knows better than you do.” How terrible is that?! How awful would that have been? We need to remind ourselves over and over again that we know ourselves better than any external device or person. We have to stop undermining ourselves so willingly and giving away our power.
Things can be guides. People can set examples and reminders but it’s up to us to decide for ourselves what works for us and what doesn’t. Only we can determine what it is that we want and don’t want for ourselves. Because here’s the thing — if we’re relying on someone or something else to pave the path for us, we can be certain it’s not going to be the one we really want to be on because we didn’t pick it for ourselves. And if we’re not the one calling the shots or making our own choices for ourselves let’s face it, the outcome will be lackluster because we won’t be that invested to begin with.
We have to believe in ourselves enough and trust ourselves enough to make our own choices. Only then will we be able to embark on truly and passionately claiming the outcome. Our choices and decisions have to come from within. You and only you can do that for yourself. Trust yourself, and maybe more importantly, don’t be afraid if you get it wrong. Who cares. Just start again in each moment.
We are our best advocates. We know ourselves quite well. We just tell ourselves repeatedly that we don’t. It’s not difficult these days to find evidence to support our ignorance and shortcomings. Sure, maybe everything whispers to everything else — syncing and speaking in secret codes — hogging the blankets and making us think we’ve been left in the dark. But that’s not it. It’s not true. Let them do their thing. Let them talk and sync and connect but don’t let them disconnect you from yourself. Just reach over and yank the covers back. We can do that.