The 21st century is an amazing, fascinating time to be alive. Technology is everywhere, and it has enabled us to make progress faster than ever before. But it is also one of the most challenging time for humanity, with many problems that are yet to be solved. Mainly, climate change. It is a matter of years before we reach a point of no-return when it comes to global warming, and all the consequences that come with it.
Global warming is just one of the most obvious examples. Regardless, most of us are too busy to care about these problems. We have profiles to follow, vacation pictures to like, and a status to update. Not to mention this new hashtag we need to tweet.
Like with a lot of amazing breakthroughs, technology came with its dark sides too. Our privileged modern societies have become addicted to the technology of information and hyper connectivity. That is cellphones, laptops, tablets. We spend so much time glued to our screens, sharing, typing and liking content that has no impact on the current issues we are facing as humanity. We are addicted to our electronic devices, and most of us don’t even realise or acknowledge it.
Here are 7 things that used to be completely normal, but have become absolutely impossible to do because of technology.
#1 Not checking our phone for more than an hour
Phones are with everyone, everywhere, all the time. They’re on our bedside table when we wake up (in fact, they even wake us up). They’re on our bedside table when we go to bed (for some of us they also put us to sleep). They’re in our pocket, in our bag, in our hands, on our desk, in the bathroom.
We can’t help checking our notifications every time the screen lights up. That’s for the least addicted of us. For the rest, we’ll check every 15, 10, 5 minutes, even when the screen remains black. We will pretend to check the time, and forget what time it is 5 seconds later. We will read the latest tweet and forget about it 1 minute later.
We shop, read, exercises, talk, write, take photos with our phones. They have become an extension of our body, and we can’t help to use it. How many times do you check your phone every hour?
#2 Not caring about other people’s life
Not everybody who scrolls through Facebook, Instagram and such does it in a judgmental and/or envious way. But a lot of people do. We use social feeds as a fake mirror of other people’s lives. Depending on how much this mirror embellishes reality, we become more or less jealous, envious of lives that don’t exist anyway.
Everywhere people go, we watch them. We know who they hang out with even tough we never talk to these people.
We care way too much about other’s people’s lives, while we would make a much better use of our time if we focused on our life. The real one, not the digital, distorted one.
#3 Living moments outside of a screen
We live in a time where concerts, sport events and festivals have become masterpieces of entertainment. Gigantic fireworks, lighting effects larger than life, sold out stadiums, amazing choregraphies from the most creative minds, on stages so big you can fit hundreds of people on them.
And how do we take this in? How do we watch this? How do we connect to this very moment? Through a frame of light smaller than a postcard, with less detail and definition than our own eye can capture.
Photos are symbols of what a time used to be. We look at a photograph, and it triggers one or multiple memories of this specific time, without explicitly representing it.
Phone footage is too much. It is not subtle, it shows everything. Everything becomes completely distorted, completely asynchronous. When we look at the footage a couple years later, we don’t remember anything, because the footage doesn’t trigger any memories. Videos and photos show exactly what we saw, trough our tiny screen, because we spent the whole concert on our phone. The footage is not part of something bigger. It is exactly like when we were there, minus the real life, plus filters, bad connectivity, and terrible image quality.
#4 Leaving the house without our phone
Nobody is on their own anymore when it comes to technology. Who is crazy enough to ever leave the house without their phone? We need it for everything, nothing and anything. We feel naked without our phone, we need it in our pocket, in our bag, we need it close to us, because we feel disconnected without it.
We’ll go to the forest seeking peace and a bit of solitude, but always remember to bring the phone, to make sure to immortalise the moment on Instagram. We share a picture #solitude, but we just let thousands of strangers enter our private forest circle.
#5 Being accountable
We don’t need to stick to our word anymore when it comes to meeting up with people, or to solving problems. We can cancel 24 hours, 12 hours, 3 hours in advance. For the least organised, or the most scared of us, we can cancel within the last hour before the meeting.
Can’t make it? Don’t want to? No problem. All we have to do is send a text, make a call, apologise like we care, and life goes on. Nobody ever sits alone at the restaurant wondering where the person they’re waiting for is. Because everybody knows where everybody is, it’s like nobody has to be on time. Accountability has become hugely underrated, because now it’s ok to be late, it’s ok to not show up, with an emoji for an excuse.
#6 Doing nothing
We are never completely disconnected, doing nothing. We don’t enjoy the simple things in life anymore, we always need something to trigger something in us. Whether it’s through a phone, a laptop, a tv screen, a song. We need to pick up something to drop it a few seconds later. Like a picture to forget it 1 minute later.
We go to the park and we bring our phone, we sit on the couch and we get an email. Being able to sit and do nothing has become challenging to the point where one needs to remove the physical presence of electronic devices in the room.
#7 Thinking and trusting
When we get to an intersection, we don’t trust ourselves to decide whether to go right or left. We pull up our phone and ask Google.
When we read the news, we don’t really build an opinion. We don’t develop critical thinking, because we are only presented with things that match our standards and our superficial analysis.
We don’t trust ourselves with remembering friends’ birthdays, because we know Facebook will remind us. We don’t need to know much eiter, because we can ask Google anytime.
We have never been this reliant on technology at any point during the history of humanity. Only a few of us are acknowledging the impact this life automation can have on the near future. The rest of us are busy using it without trusting in anything else.
Everything comes with a blind spot
The privileged modern societies are the ones who have the most power to make things right, yet most of its citizens are too busy browsing to care about the rest of the world.
A little openness and compassion can go a long way. Whether you do it for your own sanity, or you decide to open yourself to the world and its problems, try to be conscious about how you use technology.
Next time you turn on your laptop, check your phone, or watch TV, try to ask yourself why you are doing this. Ask yourself if maybe there’s something better you can do. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It can be for your own self, disconnecting to reconnect to the real world. Or it can be for a bigger purpose, like starting to learn about the problems around you, maybe go and help other people.
Everything comes with a blind spot. Technology came with a huge one. Next time you use it, make sure you check your surroundings too.