Buddhism and Technology

I’ve been recently intrigued by Buddhist Geeks. They are a weekly podcast and video cast about how Buddhism and technology can go hand in hand. They have teamed up with Tricycle magazine to launch a yearly retreat in Boulder, CO to explore how we can live in the modern world with its emerging technology and still follow the Buddhist path.
To be honest, I was skeptical at first. I think of how technology has lured me in. I can barely have a conversation without checking my phone, sending a text, commenting on Facebook, or any number of tasks that lead to my complete distraction from the present moment. Which is often a moment with a friend or family member. I am the worst for this. I do recognize that I am often bordering on the point of rudeness (let’s be honest I often cross the border without realizing it until it’s too late).  I let the distractions of my technology lead me out of the enjoyment of the moment I have in front of me.
So I was excited to see how I could merge my two desires. How do I remain in the moment, practice my Buddhism, and still enjoy my technology? In a recent article in Tricycle magazine, Vincent Horn, co-founder of Buddhist Geeks, tells Tricycle managing editor, Rachel Hiles, that to avoid “fetishizing” technology you need to work to “selectively minimize” your technology usage on an individual level. Horn also says you should ask yourself a few questions. 1) Do I really need this technology? 2) Does it actually significantly enhance something I’m already doing? 3) Does it make it possible for me to do what I’m doing much better?
If you can’t answer all three questions with a yes you could be, much like me, purchasing technology just for the sake of purchasing it. As I’ve said I’m extremely guilty of this. I have sunk a great deal of cash into the latest technology crazes. I have owned all but two of the iPhones since they’ve been out. Did I need them? No, I can honestly say I didn’t. The technology from generation to generation hasn’t expanded enough to justify the purchase of the latest model upon its release.
Now the real question is, what do we do with this knowledge? How do we stop ourselves from fetishizing our technology? As I’ve said before in this blog, the first step is awareness. I am aware of how I elevate technology to an almost godlike status. What is my next step? Now that I acknowledge the realities I can forgo the upgrade I am due in July. As long as this phone is working I can hold on to it. My friends that have the newest iPhone haven’t raved enough about it to make it worthwhile.
My biggest challenge is how to remain in the present moment and not become engrossed in my technology to the detriment of the relationship in front of me. This will take more conscious effort and likely some gentle and not so gentle prodding from the people I’m with. My family has no problem telling me to put my phone down. My mom’s favorite line to me is, “who could you possibly be texting so much?”  Some would call it nagging, I call it a not-so-subtle reminder to bring me back to the present moment. I need to find more ways to bring me back to my present moments.
How can you start disconnecting from your technology fetish and start connecting with the living breathing world around you? How can you utilize the amazing leaps in technology, but still retain your connection to the relationships in front of you? Technology can be so very helpful and beneficial, but living in the present moment with the people in front of you now is what life and living are all about.
Namastè
Matthew
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