Technology is such a broad term holding so many meanings and connotations. The technological advances in the last fifty years are downright staggering. Not only can we instantaneously chat with someone 10,000 miles away, but we can send them ugly photos of ourselves, pointless videos and whatever the hell else our little hearts desire. If that's not enough, we can fly high-quality cameras to specific coordinate locations with drones. It's truly astounding. With social media and news services, the information we have at our fingertips seems infinite. In addition to all of this, robotics and automation are rapidly gaining ground. As my friend recently alluded to, it's likely that everyone will own self-driving cars in the near future. Imagine that.
The benefits of technology are undeniable. Communication and information have virtually no geographical limitations. Our technology is a bridge for people all over the world to connect to others. The tiny computers in our hands can do just about anything imaginable and frankly, it's amazing how affordable and easy they are to access for those of us fortunate enough to live in first-world nations. I'm currently living in a country that is identified as being at the forefront of cell phone technology...even if the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s are exploding! The omnipresence of cell phones quickly becomes apparent after strolling down what I call a "smartphone street" in all of the urban centers here in Korea.
The Internet is probably the most useful and democratic thing that has ever existed. It's crazy to think it was originally designed for military communications. Personally, I LOVE being able to access anything I could digitally desire by swiping unlock on my phone and typing into the Google search bar. I can easily share my writing or videos with the entire world. That's an empowering feeling. Even with all these positives of technology, it certainly has its drawbacks. One of the most glaring issues with technology is the fact that communication with devices is replacing authentic human conversation and connection. We're spending so much time on social media and our devices that we're slowly losing our social skills in real conversations. Connecting with friends online is great, but it should be a supplement, not a replacement.
For me, I've noticed physical and mental changes from overusing technology. I feel fatigued and completely out of it from being on a my laptop for too long. I also get dry eyes from computer use, which has become quite an annoyance. I've read multiple studies that people generally blink 66% less often when using a computer. After spending a significant amount of time on my laptop, my eyes become uncomfortable and bloodshot. If that's not a sign to reduce my use, I don't know what is. This can be frustrating to me since my passion (filmmaking) requires hours of video editing. Nowadays, it seems that the majority of activities and professions require constant computer use. It's quite difficult to get away from.
"A generation of idiots, smartphones and dumb people."
From a mental standpoint, I feel that too much technology can have a negative effect on my mind. Let's say it's Sunday afternoon, and I realize that I just spent half the day mindlessly staring at my phone. I was most likely connecting with friends or family is some way or another, but it quickly becomes obvious that the majority of that time was unnecessarily wasted. In Gary Turk's spoken word video, 'Look Up', he says "A generation of idiots, smartphones and dumb people." Honestly, I'd have to agree with this. We've become so tethered to our devices that it's fundamentally changing our brains. If you haven't seen that video, I encourage you to click the link and check it out.
Many of us millennials probably couldn't imagine a world without Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube. I know I couldn't. Likes and comments are the trendy form of reassurance and self-validation. I recall a specific instance where our addiction to technology was ostentatiously displayed. This was a few years back during college. I was at a bar close to my university, and I was feeling pretty good after downing a few beers with some friends. We scoped the bar— for what else— attractive college females. Standing by the bar, I couldn't help but notice that about 80% of the girls that were not currently interacting with someone were interacting with their iPhone. I thought to myself: It's bad enough that everyone is glued to their device on public transportation or in coffee shops, but this really got to me. Bars are specifically meant for social interactions. It's even encouraged to drink alcoholic beverages to make it even easier to meet and talk to new people. This is just one example of the many scenarios like this that I've come across in recent years.
Not to sound like an old geezer, but I think we should carefully pay attention to how we use technology going forward. These technological advances have improved our lives immeasurably, but we NEED to monitor our usage. It should not define us, just refine us. Be mindful.
Check out the video below, where I discuss this topic:
Break Your Boundaries.