Monday, 16 June 2014

Our love of technology – terrific or terrible?

Thanks to my own stupidity I am completely without my mobile phone today (read: I had too much alcohol this weekend, dropped my iPhone 5 on the floor outside the pub and smashed the entire screen).

My lovely fiancé is trying to take it to a shop and get it repaired for me before he starts his shift so I left my phone in his hands and will hopefully be reunited with it (and it having been fixed) this evening.

I am lost.

I’m not exaggerating, I am actually having withdrawal symptoms at not having it in my handbag, on my desk at work, by my side as normal. I do feel a little on edge.

This, I totally appreciate, is ridiculous.

I can remember years back going on holiday and not taking my mobile phone, I’ve had mixed experiences. When I was younger I missed my phone being there and actually at times reached into my beach bag on hearing a phone, totally forgetting I didn’t even have mine with me! At other times I’ve loved being totally away from it all and nobody contacting me or obsessing over social media updates.

Yet, having to come to work and in the middle of sorting out all sorts in my work and personal life I feel like something huge is missing. I am extremely conscious my phone is not sitting even on my desk for example.

I’m already realising I won’t be able to input my food/drink on my fitness app I use, I won’t be able to check when the bus is due on my journey home, I won’t be able to text my fiancé or friends and family during the day or call them on my break. And as for social media updates, don’t even get me started!

On reflection, I feel this is a sad state of affairs and really worrying that I am so dependent on a small piece of technology.

I’m already well aware how we all live our lives too absorbed in our Facebook accounts for example and was a big fan of the Look Up From Your Phone video – even if ironically we all watched it and shared it on our phones!

We’ve all seen whether it’s with our own children or young relatives how familiar the younger generation are with technology nowadays and so early on and it leaves me constantly torn between whether our love of technology and frankly our obsession with it is a good or bad thing.

Working for a digital company of course I should be interested in and embrace all things digital. And to an extent I do and find it amazing how digital constantly evolves and we’ve got all these cool gadgets and ways to help us in our lives. The fact children are so clued up on this stuff is great and just leads to a future of ever increasing options and digital evolution.

However, another part of me feels so saddened by it all.

I can’t help but feel we’re becoming a society of robots. Our social skills are lacking based more on our virtual friendships on social media platforms and letting everyone know what we’re doing all the time. I myself am completely guilty of regular ‘check ins’ on Facebook, Tweeting when I’ve had a great class at the gym, taking photos on my phone and uploading them religiously and filling in App information as if it’s a regular job (GoodReads book progress, MyFitnessPal dietary and exercise behaviour, tracking my weight).

We see constantly how stats are coming back showing how many people are viewing online content via their phone now, users are constantly digesting data on the go. Websites now need to be responsive and even the type of content shown on a dedicated mobile site needs to be considered differently to previous ideas.

Think about at home when you sit down to watch the TV or read a book, how soon is it before your browsing on your phone and distracted?

I cannot remember the last time I sat down indoors and just sat and relaxed and focussed completely on one thing, without distraction.

So, is this a good thing? Is it great our kids are so technology minded and the area is no longer seen as just ‘for geeks’. Have all these apps meant we’re more in control of our lives and we’re super capable of doing so many things simultaneously? Are we expanding our brain’s capacity? Or in turn are we actually stunting our social skills and development? Are we only able to live through our social media persona now and unable to switch off?

Films used to show the future as a world of robots, super intelligent metal objects which people found far-fetched and rather uncomfortable. In fact are we instead simply creating a world of human ‘robots’ who have no off button and living life in a virtual world?

As you can tell, I really can’t decide which side of the debate I fall on. Does there even need to be sides? I’d be really interested what you think? Particularly those of you who don’t have a job within technology.

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