I have a confession to make. Two, actually. I don’t have a smartphone, and I am not connected to social media. Shocking!
Many people can no longer envision life without these two technologies. What would it be like not to be able to whip out a smartphone and check for “likes,” or to constantly browse for the latest gossip and news updates?
I find it quite relaxing, personally.
Technology has always been on the forefront of societal changes and this inevitably filters down to the lives of individuals. Everything is technology, from the roads we drive on to the foods we eat. Even a horse and cart is a piece of technology, albeit an outdated one. When you drink out of a cup rather than your hands, this is technology. When you put shoes on your feet, you are wearing technology. Technology is literally everywhere.
Yet, in recent years, technology has boomed at an unprecedented rate. The advent of the internet brought about an informational revolution every bit as significant as the industrial revolution that came before it. We have transitioned into an age where information, knowledge, and services are quite literally at our fingertips.
So why don’t I have a smartphone then?
I see the most recent advances in technology as a double-edged sword. They provide immense benefits to our daily life, but they also seem to come at a cost. I decided that for me personally, those costs outweighed any benefits that I might gain. I have the internet at home, but I don’t want to carry it around with me.
A lot of new technology is based on convenience, and this is perhaps its number one mass appeal. We now have endless resources available through the screens of our phones. We can book a taxi or order our shopping. We can even use our device to run a bath if we really wanted to.
The cost is laziness. A bird does not expect a worm to crawl into its nest. In nature, the rule is simple – you put energy in and you get more back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to the days of hunting for my survival, but the problem is we are hard-wired to feel rewarded when we put effort into something. With no effort, the rewards are diminished. Nothing should be too easy.
The second obvious impact of technology is an increased ability for communication. We are now able to eliminate time and distance as a barrier and talk with people from around the world. This has impacted professional and social lives in many ways and opened discourse between people from different cultures and creeds. Global communication is a game-changer for sure!
I am glad to have the privilege to communicate in this way, but there is a trap; you may find that you seem to lose touch with the people around you, the ones that you can actually reach out and touch. How many times have you sat in a room with people you love, and everyone had their head down looking at their phone “communicating” with someone else? Are we really more connected now? Or are we socially distracted?
New technologies also bring us entertainment. Is boredom even possible with a smartphone or tablet in hand? Perhaps, but I would say that most people (myself included) would be able to keep occupied for a long time. We have games, music, movie streaming – access to pretty much any media we want. We have high-definition TVs, gaming consoles, and online gaming. What could be better, you ask?
I see two problems with entertainment overload. The first is that we become too easily distracted. We can easily switch off from any situation at the touch of a button. We can distract ourselves from work, from each other, and from whatever is going on around us. We can even ignore our own thoughts. This is an unhealthy retreat from what real life can offer.
The quality of the entertainment is also sacrificed for quantity. Rather than becoming deeply involved in an enthralling interest or participating in a shared activity like board games, we just pick up and play games that can hold our interest for an hour.
Consider the difference between playing online poker and holding a home game. Online gaming allows you to play fast and stay entertained. But a home game will bring you more happiness, and the opportunity to sit around a table with friends and enjoy conversation and laughter.
I am not here to say that one is better than the other or to bash technology in any way. I make my living online and enjoy many aspects of convenience and entertainment that modern technology can offer. I am only here to suggest that we look at both sides of the coin, and consider how technology could be impacting our lives, for good and for bad.
What can we do? Well, the answer is simple. Keep enjoying the technologies that you want in your life, but subject yourself to an honest inquiry about unhealthy behaviors that might be holding you back. Are you on your phone a lot when socializing with real people? Could you be furthering your artistic endeavors rather than browsing Facebook? Can you find any better reading material than Buzzfeed articles? You get my drift…
Photo is from Pexels
Contributing Author Bio
Manuela Muroni is Barcelona-based freelance writer, she has been writing professionally since 2008. When she’s not glued to a computer screen she’s most likely playing beach volleyball or painting abstract art.