I was born in North Carolina in 1985. I grew up at our suburban pool, Presbyterian church, public schools, and boy scout troop, where I eventually became an Eagle Scout. After high school, I hiked the length of the Appalachian trail from Maine to Georgia with my best friend. That experience blew apart any bubbles I’d been living in up to that point and prepared me well for an adventurous college experience.
I studied physics and spent summers biking across the country, leading whitewater rafting trips in Colorado, and studying in summer schools in both North Carolina and Mexico. By the time I graduated in three years, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, besides everything. After getting married at 24, I went back to school and studied education (MAED). That qualification opened doors to international opportunities.
I spent three years teaching near London, in the US Virgin Islands, and Ecuador. We moved back to the States to start a family and I transitioned into a career as a software developer, a passion that had been weaving its way into my life as an educator. Starting a family took a year and a half and we didn’t get pregnant until after we did a family technology detox. I became fascinated by the way technology affects us and began reading the existing literature and found that while there was ample evidence of the ways in which technology was hindering human flourishing, there seemed to be no one with a better path forward.
Having spent several years as an educator and software engineer, I had both the mindset and skill set to design such a path. But my wife was pregnant, so it didn’t seem prudent to take any professional risks. Tragically, our daughter died about 24 hours before her birth, a few days after her due date. It is hard to describe the pain and brokenness that continues to reverberate today.
This defining tragedy changed my perspective about risk. I reached a point where I thought, “Nothing matters anymore.” Which sounds terrible and is. But hidden in that thought is a freedom I’d never known before. I could follow my dream, training people to restore a sense of balance to their digital lives through writing and workshops. Our own experiences with technology had created my wife’s and my greatest hope and greatest sorrow. In response, I started Digital Detangler and wrote my first book, a how-to guide for individuals and corporate teams hoping to regain control over their hectic lives.