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Are you present?  Or not?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (click here for the trailer if you have no clue what I am talking about) may well be the classic analogy for modern life.

Are you here?

Or have you skipped out?

I am a perhaps addicted complete fan of modern technology.  I am one of the few parents who knows more about technology than my children.  I love the new stuff.  I don’t wait in line to buy a new iPhone when it comes out, but eventually I get there.  Tablet?  Yes, love and use.  Smart phone?  Mostly up to date.  Apps?  In.  You tell me about something I should know/download/put on my purchase-wish-list?  Yes.  eBooks?  Check.  Blog?  You are reading it!

But.  But.  But.

But this adhesion to technology and communication, this need to get an answer now and not later, this screen blocking me from looking at you…

I was out walking the dog the other day.  We have a little loop in the woods where the dog can run unleashed, smell everything, dig after chipmunks or mice or roust out deer, giving them a good chase for a while.  It is a slice of heaven.  I usually bring my phone when I take the dog in the woods, but I mute it.  Just for emergencies, I tell myself.

But then after a busy day at work, I pull it out of my pocket and quickly check email.  I might think I am being “truer” to the outdoors by – when it’s really important – responding to emails by using the voice recognition and not typing out responses.  Daughter in college texts.  Teenager wants to talk?  You need to be available!  Gloves off, stop walking, start typing or speaking oh-so-clearly for voice recognition.

Eventually the dog comes back and looks at me somewhat sideways, in a manner that can only be interpreted as saying,”Really?  Really?  This cannot wait?”

The dog is right.  The future will be ruled by technological innovations, but life will always be about BEING PRESENT.

Goal for the next months: put the technology away and look people in the eye when speaking to them.  No more covert checks of email or texts.  If it is important, I will say “Excuse me for a moment – I need to take care of this.”  Mostly, however, I will take care of “this” when the opportunity for face to face has ended.

Bueller?   Bueller?  Bueller?

About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. great post — great challenge. It’s so easy to see in other people — the couple at the “table-for-two” who look only at their phones — whoops, that was me.

  2. Oh, the “whoops, that was me!” moments that I’ve had. But the worst case I’ve ever seen of people not enjoying the moment and being so wrapped up in their technology was the three-top at my restaurant where the daughter texted the mother. WHO WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO HER.

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