First published on Huffington Post – 2 February 2016
We’re surrounded by technology.
We’re connected 24/7. When something goes wrong with our techno gadgets the first thing we try is often to switch it off and then switch it back on again. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it …. so it’s interesting that we don’t take the time to unplug ourselves.
There are very few places in the world where we can’t be found and where people can’t contact us in one form or another. When did we become so dependent on being electronically connected to the world?
Growing up I spent a lot of time outside playing, whether it was with the other kids in our neighbourhood, riding bikes, horse riding or playing sport. We worked out where our friends were by wandering to their house and finding out whether they were home, or by picking up the phone and calling them. Nowadays, it is a text message or a message on Facebook that gives us this information – we’re one step removed from the conversation.
As humans we’re conditioned to rely on community to survive, but what happens when the way we live creates a fissure in the way that community operates?
Technology can be great, and amazing advances are made every day that can save lives, improve communication globally and make our lives easier and more efficient. But technology has also made us busier than ever before and adds a layer of complexity to our lives that serves to disconnect us.
We can see massive changes in the way that communication occurs now with the advent of social media, the use of text messaging, snap chat, email and online news. We’re sucked into this great big vortex of information and opinion that’s very rarely based on facts and often creates a mob mentality that produces a tidal wave of angst. Technology means there is now an avenue for individuals to openly have their say about others publicly and loudly – to the world at large. Whilst this creates an avenue for the ‘little guy’ to have a voice it also creates an environment where individuals can make personal and vicious comments about other individuals they haven’t met. The ‘keyboard warrior’ has been born. They make their comments from behind a screen – a place where they are entirely removed from the human impact that their comments make. We’re one step removed from the personal.
Whilst all this is going on, there is a billion dollar industry operating behind the scenes that operates purely to determine which buttons to push to make us buy. We’re manipulated multiples times every day – and most of us aren’t even conscious that it’s happening. Buying goods and services is now so easy we often don’t even have to leave our home – and in some cases the comfort of our couch!). We’re one step removed from the experience.
The buzz and the hype that constant connection creates in our lives causes a significant amount of stress. Ask someone to put their phone down for an hour and see the chaos that ensues. For some people the reaction to this is the equivalent of detoxing for an alcoholic. Technology and being connected 24/7 is a form of addiction.
It’s so important for us to program time without technological connection into our lives. We need a break from the computer, phone, internet, social media – and we need to take the time to reconnect with our family, friends and community. We MUST bring the personal connection back into our lives to ensure that we continue to feel for our fellow human beings.
Without this personal connection our society will become totally and emotionally disconnected, and the decisions we make as a community will be disjointed and will serve only a small portion of our interests. The greater good will no longer exist, and if that happens we might as well become machines.