This is the 21st century. By this time we were supposed to either be living in a blissful utopia or a post apocalyptic wasteland. Flying cars, hover boards, virtual reality, we should have had all that but instead we got phones that are smarter than us, hover-boards that don’t actually hover, and a reality that’s virtually 40 more years from obtainability.
At the same time technology has become so ubiquitous that even with the broken promises of past visionaries there is little in our day to day lives that isn’t impacted by it.
So much so that there’s backlash at people who are seen to be using technology as a crutch. People take “mental health breaks from Facebook”; there’s articles upon articles about unplugging, and psychologist who specialize in “social media addiction”. You’ll even see people at the beginning of the year not swearing off donuts or smoking but instead decreeing: “This is the year I break the leash and stop letting technology control me!”.
Of course, we find this to be laughable. It’s a tide you can’t hope to combat; we think to try to do so is not only foolish but is also denying yourself one of the most powerful tools humankind has yet to create.
We understand the importance of focus and family time spent around the table but these campaigns we see that read: “You wouldn’t take out a hammer at the dinner table would you?” just don’t make sense.
If we needed to drive a nail you bet we would!
And fact is, a hammer sitting on the table doesn’t hurt anything. Our phones and mobile devices are much the same way – they only have the control over us that we give to them. That hammer only becomes a distraction when you pick it up and start whacking things – so don’t blame that poor rectangle of plastic for your lack of self control and inability to focus on the present moment that’s right in front of you.
There have been any number of ordinary nights when gathered with friends and loved ones where we will share space, coffee, and thoroughly enjoy doing nothing more than browsing the networks on our phones together. We’re all surfing different things and so we’ll show our screens to each other, talk about the stuff we find, cast it onto the tv so we can all see it, and often have very in depth discussions that might not even come up otherwise. It’s enjoyable. It’s leisurely. It’s social interaction in the real world driven by technology. At no point does anyone there feel left out or ignored because someone is on their device looking at the web because we’re all doing it together.
It’s a matter of choice, of priority; far too often a matter of individuals actively seeking an easy ‘out’ of social situations and a convenient pacifier for their boredom.
But it’s not all rosy glow and sunshine. We understand that for all the ways technology has connected us, it’s also separated us as well. We’ve gained the ability to know the answer to almost any question, find any location as if it’s familiar even though we’ve never been there, but it’s come at the expense of us having the mental facility to know how to find those answers and discover those new places ourselves.
Even with a lack of self control, you don’t have to let your phone be your master, here are some tips:
• Start with awareness. Look up from your phone every few minutes.
• Make the events of the real world going on around you the first priority.
• Every notification is not important.
• Consider your surroundings; be considerate of the real world people you’re sharing it with.
• Driving and using your device do not mix. If you get nothing else from this take away a sincere request to put down your phone when you buckle your seatbelt and don’t pick it up again until you’re at your destination – the life you save could be your own.
But you still can’t blame the technology. It’s only a crutch if you choose to use it as such and technology can not only be a helpful social stimulator but also a resource for increased insight to what the current moment presents.
The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back, so it’s best to learn how to master it and make it work for you.