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Buying the Gadgets Without a Hobby

Electronics and online communication gobbles our columnist's time.

I have a relative, a very interesting person. Some years ago, pre-first-Internet-bubble time, when we all worked for big safe corporations and banks, he quit his engineering job and started a business. He sold his house, his collection of silver spoons (that was his hobby once), invested all his life savings in this venture, and worked day and night for many-many years until he hit it big (but that is another story).

During all that time he dreamed of going on long nature trips. He wanted to take a few weeks off when he could, to see Yellowstone Park, the Oregon preserves, even Italy, Switzerland or go on safari. My friend bought hiking gear—the waterproof, tough hooded jackets, featherlight sleeping bags and tents, backpacks and thick-soiled shoes, these banana-republic vests with multiple pockets in all the imaginable places that zip, button and Velcro.  He kept buying fishing poles, swimming trunks, small propane stoves, kayaks and knives. The sporting goods store employee once sold him a stack of the previous year's hiking calendars and a portable espresso machine to be used in a dark forest.

My relative looked at the outdoor gear catalogues as I look at the bar of dark chocolate—swallowing hard, adrenaline rushing through his veins, and feeling a little lightheaded until the craving is satisfied. However, when he had time off, he went on other vacations—Hawaii or all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Rome and Paris, and luxury cruises, as soon as he could afford it. He rarely hiked.

“My family doesn’t like it, a friend who promised me we go together changed his mind, and the weather this year is not good," were his explanations.  We, his family and friends, mentioned to him on few occasions, "Hey dude, watch out that you don't spend more money and time collecting all that gear than actually hiking."

“But you know that I couldn’t go until I have the proper gear,” was his response.

You are wondering now why am I entertaining you with this story? It reminds me of me (and may be it will remind you of you too).

My home is full of stuff for hobbies and short-lived intentions I never fully mastered.  For example, I have books and various contraptions from the time I set to learn gardening.  I never had time or enough interest to continue. These gadgets are still on my patio, and to collect all of them took a lot of my time, sometimes instead of the gardening itself. 

There was time when I dreamed I would return to playing the piano. I owned an instrument, and spent money tuning it up. I had the greatest time selecting the sheets of my favorite classical music, which I barely played.

There are also too many devices in my kitchen that chop, liquefy, slice and cook under pressure.  I kept throwing out and buying them all over again, with passion and hope, not realizing (well, I do now), that no matter what, I will always be looking for shortcuts in food preparation, meaning the restaurants-and-‘just-heat-it’ food group.

 With the current technology, I spend too much time on its ‘gadgets’ too—Facebook, Twitter, my blog, others blogs and LinkedIn.

There are many important things I want to accomplish during, let's say, a Monday. It’s writing (my hobby), and a job search (a necessity).

But as soon as I wake up, my arm reaches for my iPhone. I change my status on Facebook, read updates, click on the articles and YouTube links suggested by my friends, and review their new photos, as well as the photos of friends of my friends. I also ‘like’ some comments and carefully count buddies who ‘liked’ mine. Then I tweet to my ‘followers’, and check statistics on my blog. A few emails in my personal G-mail account need to be answered immediately, and they aren’t always about writing and jobs.  While on my computer, I have to check a few favorite online publications and blogs. Then LinkedIn (the one that went public a few days ago creating quite a few millionaires and even a billionaire) must be checked too if I want to find that job.

This gets repeated a few times a day, and I usually don’t write as much as I planned, and don’t send out as many resumes as I set out to send at the beginning of my day.  “This all can be useful and is called networking, right? One day it may pay off," I rationalize.

But I know better. Just like my relative, I am more involved in the ‘supporting’ activities, the gadgets, than I am the activity itself.

So, I made a plan. I will not look at my iPhone (iPad or a PC) at the social network sites until lunchtime.  I will write, make phone calls and prepare my resume to fit few available openings, and use e-mail and websites strictly for job search.  Then I will allow myself a break, but after lunch, I am turning it off again until the evening. 

This plan made me feel good, and in full control of my time, until I shared it with my daughters, Val and Michelle (while they were checking their Facebook and texting). I didn’t like their dismissive chuckle. But I am determined to follow it through.

Check with me in a week or so. I will succeed!

Priyanka Lalwani May 26, 2011 at 08:50 PM
this is highly inspirational!I have planned from this moment,to give more time to my keyboard!

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