**This is a Guest Post written by Tyler. See footer for details**
Are People Overly Dependent on Technology?
You know you’ve got too much technology in your life when you and your significant other are sitting together on the couch, having a text-message conversation with each other. Who ever imagined that “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” could actually refer to our vocal cords?
Admittedly, it’s a very convenient form of communication and entirely appropriate at times, like during weddings, funerals, and tests. But it’s not just text messaging, it’s the entire technology spectrum that has zombified us, and it only seems to be getting worse.
I know a handful of people who can’t get into their cars and onto the road until they’ve synced all their Bluetooth devices with their car’s Bluetooth system, have texted several people to let them know they’ve just left, will be rolling shortly, and will text them when they get there, and checked their multiple email accounts once last time. And by one last time I mean before they get to the next stop light where they’ll check it again, just in case something important from a rich, retired army general with banking connections in Zimbabwe has shown up.
Do any of us really wonder why our auto insurance rates are through the roof, and portable technology can be cited as a prime factor in accident after accident on our highways and byways? Bet you didn’t know that many motorcycle helmets are now equipped with Bluetooth capabilities, for those times when a call just can’t wait until you’ve slowed your bullet bike to 150mph. By any definition you choose, this is an unnecessary overreach of modern technology.
As a society, on the whole, have we truly become too dependent on technology, or does it only seem that way because crotchety old technophobes keep telling us that? Consider your daily routine as insight into the answer.
What would your day be like without a computer, without a smart-phone, without 600 channels of cable television, without Facebook and Twitter, and without your Kindle Fire? Would your entire day be thrown out of kilter if the first thing you didn’t do each morning was check your email on your smartphone before you turned on your laptop to check those same emails? What would a day without Facebook be like for you? How about just an hour?
Admittedly, I’m writing this article on my computer for people to read on their computers, which might make me part of the problem, but if I could create a daily “hardcopy” following, I would.
It’s a simple fact of the 21st century that we depend on technology for everything, and those who eschew it are somehow called backwards, out of touch, and quite often my parents. Still, do we require so much technology to function in today’s society, or do we just tell ourselves that in an attempt to continue feeling relevant? Is it really important that my Facebook friends know that I just sat down for dinner at my favorite restaurant?
I think the impetus for so much of this is fear of not keeping up with the new Joneses, who are frequently teenagers and young adults who couldn’t possibly give you directions to the library because they have no idea what a library is.
How many times have you stood in line, possible for hours and at the expense of your beauty sleep, to get a new smartphone that is slightly better than the smartphone you stood in line for six months ago? If you blushed and feel a little cheeky, there’s a very good chance you’re addicted to technology for the sake of technology, and not for what it can actually mean in terms of increased productivity in your life.
So, what can be done? Well, if you’re unwilling, then nothing. You’ll probably be one of those eventual parents who raises a child who will never leave the house, for any reason, because he’ll never have to. Everything he will need will be a mouse-click or a voice command away, including virtual vacations, long distance learning, and a girlfriend who looks awesome at 30 frames per second.
If, however, you’re sick of it all, or at least sick of it some, then here’s something you can do that has been a success in our house. Every evening, for one hour, we turn off our cell phones, shut down our computers, and find something to do as a family. Sometimes it is television, but most of the time it isn’t. We go for walks, we hang out in the back yard, we play card games, we chit-chat about how we really wish we could check our Facebook status just about now.
Additionally, each Saturday we live as technology-free as possible. We do shut our phones and computers off for the day. It’s extreme, and sometimes it doesn’t always work out, but for quite some time now we’ve been successful at this because we’ve recognized in our own lives how easy it is to lose sight of the analog world when we’re so engrossed in the digital one.
It only takes a desire to want to do something different, and a willing spirit. Before you know it you’ll find it easier to set down your smartphone, easier to walk away from Facebook after two hours of searching for the funniest LOLcats on the planet, and easier to say no to that next frivolous purchase that will probably have you standing in line in freezing temperatures, texting back and forth with the guy standing in the line in front of you.
Tyler is a tech enthusiast and writer for CableTV.com