Beyond Cooks

Are We Too Connected? A Case for Tech-Free Zones at Work and Home

Author Image
Written by Michael Dulock

A few months ago I decided to take a break from the constant torrent of connectivity. At first it was difficult to step away from the feeling of being connected, but as time moved forward, I became less dependent on technology and more engaged with those around me. This simple decision to reduce the amount of time I spend behind the screen has had a profound impact on my own sense of well-being and increased my productivity. I want to be clear that I am not anti-technology. I have no illusions that technology is the undoing of society or that life was better before its advent. The terms ‘tech’ and ‘connectivity’ are used interchangeably here. They are meant to represent the many social media platforms, internet, email, text messages, and in my case, the telephone.

The decision to change my relationship with connectivity came after much introspection. I asked myself, “What impact has hyper-connectivity had on my daily life?” I began to wonder what is the true cost of being connected. The answer was clear. Conversations were prefaced with accounts of Ttwitter happenings or Facebook posts. My work performance was suffering, taking much longer to complete a task because I was busy responding to text messages and email. The quality of my work was suffering because I was not wholly engaged. While my body was going through the motions, my mind was preoccupied. Small, incremental sessions of connectivity would consume large segments of my day. My phone had become the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. The biggest problem I discovered was that  the quality of my personal interactions was also suffering. My personal relationships had taken a backseat to my virtual relationships. I had become engulfed in connectivity, opting to scroll through countless screens rather than spend precious moments with those around me. I was losing my sense of self; something had to change.

I’ve found the best way to move away from constant connectivity is to create tech-free zones, a place or time where you pledge to not use the internet. My personal tech-free zones are in my car, at meals, and Mondays, my day off. From a work perspective, I have designated my shop, MF Dulock, as a tech-free zone, with a pledge from my employees to not use their personal electronic devices during work hours. This collective pledge to go tech-free at work has created an opportunity for us to focus on developing better interpersonal relationships with our customers and within the organization. The noted exception to our tech-free work zone is the tablet used to manage our shop’s Ttwitter and Iinstagram feeds, and we which is only to be use that tablet d at scheduled intervals.

Since the creation of these tech-free zones, the quality of my life has vastly improved. I have found more time to explore everything around me. I have rediscovered hobbies long forgotten. Most importantly, I am able to give my undivided attention to tasks and those around me.

It is important to understand your own habits in order to decide if reducing connectivity is the right decision for you. I simply wanted to free up time for the people and activities I love most in life, tech-free zones have helped me do that. If being ‘connected’ has caused you to lose touch with those around you then maybe creating a tech-free zone is right for you too.

About the author

Author Image

Michael Dulock

Michael is a butcher and the owner of MF Dulock in Somerville, MA. He enjoys spending time in his wood shop building and restoring furniture (he even built the butcher blocks they use at the shop). He also takes every opportunity to look up at the stars and wonder.
Michael was born and raised in Everett, MA, and he has always considered Boston home.