We are becoming slaves to our technology. It’s a hackneyed line that you might hear your parents and the grey-haired professors in your college say time and again. However much you try to ignore these warnings, they encompass an element of truth.
Technology especially mobiles have started to impact our behavior and psychology and to a certain extent, our physiology, too.
I chose to write this post after what I saw yesterday on my commute back home from work. It was astonishing to see everyone else on the metro and I mean everyone else glued to their devices. There was not a person looking up literally.
Most were tapping away at their phones nonstop, heads down. Some were watching stuff. Then, there was a minuscule fringe whispering into their phones, heads down, as if they were sharing secret nuclear codes.
I am not judging anyone. I am not anti-technology, I am tech-savvy instead. But it’s just that sometimes it’s hard to ignore the obvious. We are turning into automatons. More on that later.
So I get back home and I was wondering about the whole situation. Then casually, I started googling images of smartphone addiction and I came across this curiously wonderful pic:
This photo was taken in a metro in Moscow. When I saw this pic, I felt almost surreal. It’s as if this moment happened in the ’90s or in an alternate reality.
These people should be glued to their phones. What are they doing reading? Aren’t their phones buzzing? Is it bad internet down there? It’s an aberration.
Sadly, the following pic looks more normal. It’s more emblematic of our times:
We live in times when tech is on a mission to keep us distracted. The phone notifications have permeated our lives, they follow us everywhere.
Let alone managing a day without a phone, we can’t even manage a few minutes without it. Without technology and our mobile phones in particular, we feel naked, stripped and alone. I am not criticizing. I understand it’s hard to overcome this addiction.
Before smartphones and fast data came along, there was off-the-grid life. You didn’t have to answer every official Whatsapp message on the weekend nor was a reply to every Monday meeting expected to happen on the go.
Today a vacation is not a vacation unless your followers see your photos and stories on your Facebook or Instagram in real time. Without it, your vacation never happened.
Sir Richard Branson said in an interview, “Don’t become a slave to technology – manage your phone, don’t let it manage you.“
A quote like this sounds anachronistic. You tell them to stay off technology and they see you as a neo-luddite or something. What they don’t realize is that there is a massive psychological cost to constant screen time.
The bottom line is that technology is uncompromising and intrusive. In many ways it is vexing and disconcerting, yet we can’t live without it.
We need to unplug from technology every once in a while to reclaim our lives. As long as we use tech to augment our skills, and in the process not let it benumb us, we should be fine. New tech like AI can be both empowering and oppressive. They can make us more isolated than ever before only if we let them.