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Stop the Gadgets, I Want to Get Off!

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"Do we ever get off those things?" I recently said to my 12-year-old son. I was shutting down my computer for the night and he was having a conversation on Kik, a new instant messaging app on iPhone that allows you to have multiple conversations with people. A minute ago it seemed that kids were doing that with iChat on their computer, but now they can do it better, faster, quicker on their phones, along with sending each other pictures on Instagram, a photo sharing program that allows you to take photos, write whatever you want on them, and have your followers "like" or comment on them. Facebook recently bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stocks. They obviously knew it was the hottest thing since, well, Facebook.

With all of the new apps popping up (which seems like every other day) to keep us busier and busier on our computers, iPads and phones, we are even more involved and engaged with each other than ever via some type of tech gadget that lets us communicate with one another what we think, or what we're doing, or even shouldn't be doing, like taking pictures of your naked body parts and sending them to other people. As I say to my kids, whatever you post is out there for the world to see. Welcome to the future!

Wherever we look, adults and children alike always seem to be on some type of gadget communicating, writing, or playing a game they downloaded from the "app store." Never before could we do this much shopping for free! I was at my younger son's elementary school graduation recently, and walked by a mother who was playing "Words With Friends" on her iPhone. She seemed very content sitting there by herself, not needing anyone to talk to (in person) because she was having such an interesting interaction with her phone. I've also been in restaurants where I've seen two people sitting across from one another, busy working on laptops or iPads in front of them. I thought restaurants are where you go to eat and socialize. Who knew? And how often do we see people together on their respective phones talking to other people instead of each other! I don't know about you, but I prefer talking to my husband or friends and looking in their eyes while I'm doing it. If my phone rings while I'm with them, unless it's really important or an emergency, I don't answer it. And some people thought call waiting was rude. That phone feature is "so yesterday."

I've heard parents complain that it's getting harder to have a meal with their children at the dinner table without their kids having their phones with them -- or should I say attached at the hip -- and during the meal, they will text or respond to people texting them. Maybe we should put an extra place setting down at the table for a phone, or computer, and welcome them as a member of our family. Not!

When I was younger, I remember hearing the saying, "Stop the world, I want to get off." I interpreted it then to mean that sometimes there is just so much stuff going on constantly, that at one point when it gets to be too much, you literally want to stop the frenzy because you've had enough.

Well, not much has changed since then. As a matter of fact, it's escalated even that much better, faster, quicker. And now with all of the tech products we can't imagine our lives without, we can't stop the world and get off so easily unless we're willing to go somewhere without electricity, and how many of us or our kids are chomping at the bit to do that?

After I said to my son, "Do we ever get off those things?" he went to bed. When I put my head down on my pillow to go to sleep too, I felt that I just wanted to be with my quiet mind, and nothing else. We are constantly bombarded with so much technology we are using, need, dependent on or addicted to, that at times it seems like noise to me that never stops. Even if you shut down your computer and put it on "sleep mode," the light pulses like a heartbeat, letting you know that it's very much alive like we are.

I know we are in the 21st century, and that modern technology has changed the world as we never could have imagined. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the brilliance you contributed in our lifetime. But like anything that is useful to us, we must know how to properly "use it," or it can "use us," in ways we may not even be aware is happening. Not being able to turn off our tech gadgets to quiet our minds for at least one point daily other than when we're sleeping, doesn't really make us in control of how our minds are being used by the gadgets we've become so accustomed to and dependent on. So unless we're willing to say, "Stop the gadgets, I want to get off," at least once in a while, then the world will keep spinning faster and faster with us on it, and where it will stop, nobody knows.

For more by Ora Nadrich, click here.

For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.