I have always had a “thing” against technology. It’s true, technology has some great benefits like the cell phone which comes in quite handy, but what I don’t like is how technology has overtaken us and our natural ability to interact with each other. We have become slaves of the digital age. People driving while texting or worse checking their email during a coffee date or lunch out with their girlfriend because they found a wireless hot spot. Someone pulls out an iphone or another type of fancy smart phone and everyone starts hovering over it “ooohing” and “aaaahing” while they cradle it in their hands practically worshiping it and playing with all the “cool” and entertaining applications.
At a doctor’s office or in the waiting area of a restaurant, you see young kids glued totheir Game Boys or whatever other electronic games are popular these days. No more teddy bears, blankets or firetrucks. On road trips, parents don’t play car games with their children anymore (like “Eye spy with my little eye….”), instead the kids watch a movie on the flatscreen TV mounted in the back of the vehicle’s front seats.
The development of computers and the Internet has been the most revolutionary. Now you walk into offices and every room is full of desks and computers. If the there is a problem with the Internet or the power and the computers down, nobody can work. People can’t work with paper and pen anymore because they would have to type it up anyway. I’m sure in most cases the average person cannot handwrite properly or event print legibly. No more ink stains on people’s hands or shirt pockets. Just strained eyes and headaches from staring at small print on a screen for 8-10 hours per day.
It’s surprising that more companies don’t have the majority of their employees telecommuting. Everyone spends the whole day emailing people who are around the corner, upstairs on the next floor or even in the office right beside them. Instead of popping in to Bob’s office to ask him a quick question, you send him an email, he responds in an email, you email him back to clarify because usually Bob has 100 emails to answer at any given time so he can’t provide a comprehensive answer requiring more than a few sentences. Then Bob emails you back with the clarification and then you email him back to thank him. A conversation that would have lasted 2-3 minutes or less in person has resulted in a 30-minute email exchange with both people feeling a little frustrated.
What’s also happening in offices these days is that someone may hit “Reply All” on an email and not see that their boss was Cc’d. Or someone could type in the beginning of a colleague’s name and Microsoft Office predicts the wrong name but you didn’t notice that the casual message you were sending to a friendly colleague went to management by accident. How many times has something like that happened to you? Before technology, someone at work may have made a Freudian slip or said something not so nice about their boss in the lunchroom, not knowing their boss was standing behind them.
When it comes to meeting some friends at a pub you’ve never been to, now you turn on the GPS and turn off your brain instead of using a map or asking a friend and navigating the best route yourself. Using the GPS may result in getting stuck in a construction zone or having to go a longer distance on the main roads rather than using the shorter route on the small streets. Sometimes you may even find out its more convenient to walk or take public transportation.
So maybe one day a week, or a month for the technologically addicted, a weekend would probably be easier, it might be an idea to turn off your cell phone, your computer, your electronic games and devices, the TV and spend some time talking in person to your friends or family giving them your full attention. Will this make relationships stronger? I would like to think so.