Tag Archives: technology

Technology is the New Cigarettes

fountains & lightsI love my mobile phone. It wasn’t always the case. I refused to have one for years until someone gave me an old one to keep in the car, “just for emergencies.”  The small grey oblong stayed neglected, and usually out of charge, in my glove box. Later my husband upgraded his smart phone and gave me his old one. I took it with me on a trip to Sydney and that’s where my fascination began. I used this mobile phone to find my way around, to book tickets, to access public transport, to find out when and what movies were playing and to text, Tweet and Facebook. It was a miracle.

That phone became, along with my keys and wallet, the only thing I’d never leave home without. And even at home it is usually beside me, my constant companion. Where ever I go, I see people with their constant companions as well. They are unable to keep their hands off them. Even school children walk around with their heads down, thumbs moving quickly as they text and upgrade their statuses. At conferences, festivals, events and social gatherings, even at a lunch with friends, our phones take precedence over the real conversations we’re having.

RED PHONE BO

I love my laptop. I reach for it as soon as get home, sometimes as soon as I wake up, and often when there is the slightest pause in proceedings I’ll find it in my hands almost sub consciously. I’m writing on it now while having all my social media sites up, just incase I feel the need to enhance my life and work by telling the world that I #amwriting.

I’m not so fond of my computer at work. It’s a bit slow but it still plugs me into the world, delivers the thousands of emails I receive and allows me to do all the things I need to do to get a radio program to air every day. And that’s a lot. These days it’s not enough to do an interview on air, it needs to be blogged, Tweeted, Facebooked, Tumblred and uploaded to Soundcloud.

All of this is not unusual, it is the accepted reality of modern life. But should it be? Recently I was reading an interview, on my laptop, with Rich Pierson, the founder of the online meditation company Headspace. One of his comments made me laugh out loud. Not because it was funny but because it was true.

 “I genuinely feel that we will look back in 10 years time at technology and it will be viewed in the same way we view cigarettes today, and people will say: “What the hell were we doing?”. It obviously has an important role to play in the modern world, but it’s definitely out of balance.” 

A life out of balance is not a sustainable life. I gave up smoking years ago. Can I give up technology? Every time I look at my mobile phone should I see it as a packet of cigarettes? Each time I reach for my laptop should I view it as an overflowing ashtray?

I need to use my computer at work, I couldn’t do my job without it. I need to use my laptop at home to write and to keep in touch with my publisher. But just maybe I could leave the house with my wallet and keys and put my phone in the glove box “just for emergencies.”

Techno-Rogered!

I think we all know by now that the well-touted technology revolution has not given us more leisure time, nor made our lives easier, and it definitely has not made us happier, healthier or wealthier. It may have made some people extremely wealthy but they would have probably invented something else that would’ve made them rich if they hadn’t come up with all this computerised guff. And guff it is.

Technology should be quick, useful, easy and even easier to move on from. None of this waiting for 10 minutes for your computer to log on, the endless frustration of documents that won’t open, screens that freeze, work that disappears when the network crashes or money lost when hackers get your details.

Not only does technology dominate our lives from work, to play, to home but now we’re all so dependent on it, it’s started bossing us around. I could get used to my car telling me I’d left my headlights on, that’s actually useful. But telling me off for not having my seatbelt on, for having the keys in the ignition when the door’s open and for something else that I haven’t even worked out yet? I don’t think so.

My washing machine alerts the neighbourhood when I haven’t balanced the load properly. You can hear it two streets away telling everyone how hopeless I am at basic domestic chores. The microwave demands to have its door opened after it’s finished destroying all the enzymes in my food and the dishwasher trills an ode to how clever it is when it’s finished doing the dishes. And I’m really not in the mood for attitude from my fridge. If I leave the door open too long it starts up, gently at first, with a few warning bleeps. But if I don’t obey it’s request to close the door it really lets me have it.  And I thought technology was supposed to help us, not dob us in!

Then there’s mobile phones. Smart phones. Yes, they are smart. Smarter than us. Think about it. Who’s the boss in your relationship with your phone? How many times do you leave it unanswered? When it tells you it has a text or a Twitter alert or a diary entry do you jump to attention? Even when you’re with company, even if you’re on a date with the person of your dreams, I bet that phone comes first.

Technology hasn’t set us free. Technology has enslaved us. Technology is the true opium of the masses. We’re all stoned out of our minds and totally hooked. And like all addictions it’s getting increasingly demanding and more time-consuming. It sucks us into a vortex that we can’t escape from and don’t want to. You hear it all the time. “I can’t live without my computer.” “I couldn’t function without my phone.” It’s the greatest trick there is. Why? Because it’s not true, and we all know it, but we want it to be true and we live as if it is. Totally techno-rogered.