Keeping a Watch on Technology


The other day I read an article about how, after being left for dead, younger people were rediscovering the use of wearing a watch.

Now this might not seem like big deal to most of us, particularly those of us who’ve strapped a watch around our wrist for the better part of our lives, scientist are impressed (or amused). According to their research certain portions of younger people are literally finding wearing a watch as a tool to better managing their time.

This is particularly interesting in the face of everyone becoming increasingly – and voluntarily – tethered to technology at every turn.

Apparently the growing movement for younger people to acquire a watch is their way to keep their so-called ‘smartphones’ from controlling their lives. While there is also an element of fashion rooted in this trend – the urge to be different will always exist in youth – some are actually beginning to appreciate the singularity of checking your watch can be verses taking out your smartphone.

And darned if they are right.

Think of what happens when you take out your smartphone to check the time. What do most of us do next? Simply put it away? No, at least for me, I’ll use the time to gently active the screen and check my email or maybe a social media notification. Before I know it, my simple act of checking the time is consuming minutes instead the few seconds checking my watch would’ve taken. In a way, checking my phone for the time generally leads me down the proverbial rabbit’s hole of curiosity.

Recently I was sitting in a friend’s office recently when he made a similar observation.

In his words, he explained how he thought people were becoming tethered to their technology and allowing it to dictate how they used their time. Phones vibrating in coat pockets, emails dinging for attention across the room – each one demanded attention like a spoiled three-year old child.

After our meeting, as I walked down the street back to my office, I found myself demonstrating he was absolutely right. Rounding the corner of the block, I instinctively reached into my pocket to grab my phone and check the time. After getting the information I needed, I soon found myself being sucked down the rabbit hole and checking my email. After quickly glancing over the dozen that had arrived during my meeting with my friend, I closed the email app only to notice a little red indicator a social media app. Boom, before I knew it, I – and my attention – was needlessly sucked down the hole where I’d for minutes.

The next morning I did something unusual – I put on a watch with a purpose.

Granted I love watches, but for the most part I’ve considered them an accessory for the better part of the past decade. Cool to look at, but destined to be relegated to the technology scrap heap.  But now I find myself enjoying the simplicity of purpose and how, if I’ll allow it to do its job, it can actually help put me back in control of my life.


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