I enjoy technology. I am conceding all the great and fun items that computer-based technology has become our lives; I will not fight that battle. Not only would I lose any argument against the amazing additions technology has made to our lives, but I’d also be fighting against myself. I really like it that I can flip open a Star Trek “communicator” and speak to almost anyone, anytime. I love the idea of owning a communication device outside in my garden, near the bird feeder, that is communication with a satellite in low earth orbit. Wow! And do I love my computer-oops, computers? As in most computers. In actuality, my job is tied to technology and I really like to get paid. However, this guide is a warning, a plea to open our eyes wider than our big-screen TVs, to step out of mobile phone range, to put our PDAs for a minute and look at what has gotten a grasp on us.
Technology is Seductive
Technology has the power to draw us and cause us to lose perspective about what is going on. Just try talking to your child (or maybe your partner or best friend) next time some slick TV commercial or app will be shimmering across the display and you will see what’s all of their focus. Technology brings us in. But if we are drawn in, we are also leaving something behind. We could be left-handed loving or growing relationships or the silent time required to think intentionally about our lives, where we’re going and how we would like to live five years from today. To keep this thought, that technology is enchanting, let us look at the natural progression of how we react to new technology.
Technology as a Toy
All new technology comes to us in the guise of a toy, thus its first seductive pull on us. Regardless of the era, new technology feels like a toy. It’s smooth, pretty and flashes small lights. It makes cute sounds and we react to it from the childlike (or childish) center of our being. It’s not the sophisticated 35-year-old business executive that’s reacting to the new all-purpose, highly-evolved technology item, it’s rather the 7-year-old kid inside that’s gushing and full of Christmas morning lust. We may have no way to use it yet, but we play with this. We turn stations, set the quantity on the 96 surround sound speakers (yours does not have 96?), take pictures of our feet with it, and pursue carpel tunnel problems as fast as our thumbs and fingers can fly over fun small colored buttons. It’s a toy. However, it will move to evolve to our next category which makes us feel a bit better about it and helps us avoid the fact that we spent a year of future retirement on a toy.
Technology as a Tool
The toy generally becomes a tool. In our powerful desires to warrant purchasing the toy, we search for things it could do. Ah, it keeps my calendar. Cool! Now I won’t need to keep tabs on my $29.00-day planner and worry about losing it. I simply have to worry about losing my $495 PDA. But it may also take pictures. That’s important. It’s also good it may erase them since I find that I take many pictures which are really crap and I not only spent some time shooting the pictures, I also get to spend some time erasing them. However, toys often become quite serious tools. I might continue to use my Cell Phone toy like I automatically blow through red lights and make turns without signaling (a desire that spare arm into the phone), but I also understand that this toy is a severe safety tool. I don’t wish to be broken down on the street rather than have this link to help. The specific same 50″ flat screen wall hanging that’s a toy can be a tool to take note of threatening weather and important current events. And the laptop computer that empowers me to look at images of potential Russian brides helps me write this report and project investment returns. Toys have the potential of getting tools. From puppies to working dogs. But there’s a third and more dangerous level.
Technology for a Tyrant
Dictionary.com provides one definition of a tyrant as, “a tyrannical or mandatory influence.” Wow! Believe phone, email, Skype, infectious checking of discussion, chat rooms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the remaining recent tastes of Turkish pleasure called technology. These items can be toys (relatively benign except for what they may be replacing), they could be tools, or they can become tyrants. When deeply ingrained into our job or social structure, they change from being dogs or work dogs and become pit bulls that may bite and clamp down so it is extremely tough to dislodge them. I used to have the ability to keep up with the demands of my job. Once upon a time I actually had a while that I could budget weekly which was “walkabout and get to know everybody better” time. No more. Now I’m constantly juggling attention among appointments, drop-in unannounced visitors, snail mail, telephone calls with the pink reminders, mobile phone calls, and email. I will never get one caught up without intrusions from each others. The first four were hardly manageable, with mobile and email added, I am no longer in control, the pit bull is. So, what happened?
How Did We Get Like This?
Okay. Here’s the crux of this report. Technology is on a different evolutionary rate than us people. It reproduces faster than mice and affects species with every generation. We were enticed, and continue to be enticed, by technology because of the seductive dark side. It beckons to the 7-year-old inside and brings us in. As a tool, technology is adopted and embedded in our own lives, apparently as a spouse, one called alongside us to help us. But, with no understanding of the evolutionary path of technology, we don’t restrain its place in our lives. It turns into a tyrant that disturbs us and pulls us around on its lease rather than the other way round. Due to the very first seductive nature of the technology we do not easily see it will often take us to where we do not need to go and make us pay more than we thought we were ready to pay. So, what shall we do?
What We Have To Do
I am not offering a plan but a strategy. The strategy depends on fully understanding what’s gotten a grip on us. I suggest the following crucial pieces for starting to handle technology and protect our humanity:
Certainly see that technology is enchanting and different out and controls the childish responses to the first toy elements of new technology. Gratification can be postponed (an adult reaction) and toys could be both played together and put away.
Consider both intended and unintended consequences of bringing a shiny, new technology toy in your life. What is it replacing? How are you going to control it so that it will not put you on a leash?
Do not assume that a new technology tool is far better than an older one that worked well for you previously. I have a colleague who retains in a pocket just a small list of things to do, ideas, and insights. His pencil and paper list worked much better than my PDA when my technology tool dropped both primary and backup batteries and I lost passwords to multiple forums and accounts. Which is better?
Many new technology tools can’t be avoided. However, they may be managed. Think of strategies to limit their usage and how to communicate your policies to your use to your coworkers, family, and friends. By way of instance, I check my email once a day and make it clear to my colleagues that I’m not sitting at my computer all day waiting for the chime (clearly, they’re).
Finally, look closely at what technology tends to replace and redouble your effort to focus on relationships so you’ve got no regrets.