I was recently asked, in a seminar application, how I thought technology would impact my life and career in the next five years. At first, it felt like a canned question- but the more I considered it – the more I realized how much I hadn’t. Until that moment, I don’t think I had ever considered myself outside of technology’s influence. So quickly we forget about the not so distant past when many of us did not even own a cell phone. I still vividly remember when I was about 9 years old, my best friend Rita, showed me the Encarta Encyclopedia CD-Rom set on her desktop computer- my mind was blown. I thought she was the smartest person on the planet. As a fourth grader, Encarta changed the game for us; book reports and science projects would NEVER be the same.
I remember my mom trying to figure out how to send a text message- and now she’s complaining about getting the iPhone 8 instead of X.
The rate of our progression is ball-busting. I’m not sure any of us really know whats going on.
The ease of access to such a wide spectrum of information has changed who I am as a person. In an off the beaten path quest to optimize my life and overall cognitive performance, I google the words “benefits of…” at least two times a day- and I know I am not the only one. Apparently learning, like gambling, exercise, and drugs can trigger the release of dopamine. I am hooked on learning and the internet has made it so easy for me to fuel that addiction. The web has given me answers to questions I didn’t know I had. Technology is not only impacting what we think of its changing the way we think.
IMHO, everyone has been touched by technology. Nothing is outside of it. Those indigenous tribesmen buried deep inside subtropical rainforests- that eat flesh to protect against the intrusion of technology wielding imperialists are inside of it too. The invisible web, omnipotent and omnipresent, envelops all. Infrared satellite waves quietly zip by their native heads as they sleep soundly under thatched roofed huts. You can run but you can’t hide.
The way we receive and transmit information- the way we connect with each other- the way we launch and do business- nothing is offline. I buy my face cream on Amazon! I am writing this note on my MacBook Pro!!! In the world which most of us have chosen to exist- to spend our time – to grow our lives and families- EVERYTHING IS ONLINE.
It has leveled the playing field. Anyone can learn about their diseases and medications. We don’t have to trust doctors anymore. Anyone can learn to cook, play an instrument or try to launch a business. We don’t need well-to-do parents or investors anymore. Even women are using technology to band together for social justice, it’s quite maddening how self-sufficient technology has allowed us to be. Our advancement as humans is in an excitingly precarious place. With all the benefits, I can’t help but feel on edge about it.
I get a whiff of the underbelly and often wonder if precautionary measures should be put in place for those that have become technology dependent to the point of no return (constant phone checkers) or those who’ve allowed this desire for constant connectedness to rob them of IRL connections (social media addicts). And then I wonder deeper- what does it matter? For those so tangled in the web- do they even know they are suffering? If they don’t know- then are they suffering? Do they really need help? Who is to say who is more tangled than the other- I believe we are all equally tangled- one way or another. What is too much technology if we can justify its use? Where do we draw the line if the line is different for each person? I think a wait-and-see attitude is the safest one to take. Whether you are pro or against technological dependence it is an inevitable part of our future- unless we all go under like civilizations of past. Perhaps at one point, we will so vastly outpace our own achievements the gods will have no choice but to pull the plug and start over. Again. I digress.
Whether you can live with a little or a lotta technology – I think it’s important to question or at least be aware of your connection and dependence on it. For me- I am constantly tweaking what works best- I still remember life before it and while I know it won’t ever be the same – there must be something in our genetic code that implicitly implores us to hold on to the past. Maybe this reluctance to let go of ‘the way things were’ that seems to repeat itself generationally is really part of the macrosystem’s way of making us slow down our insatiable appetite for progress.
At a very micro level, I enjoy using technology to optimize my daily life and using the internet not only as a place to learn but as a place to connect with others I would never normally be able to connect with. I enjoy blogging because it provides me with a chance to immerse myself in long-form writing- a hobby of old that I sadly gave up as I grew up. I don’t enjoy using technology as a sole means of connecting with those close to me. I prefer to see my close friends and loved ones- in person- there is something about personal face to face connection that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get from the screen. I like time online but I need my personal time offline to maintain the delicate balance.
To answer the initial question posed by the application, the next five years will likely continue to blow my mind. I’ll keep attempting to mitigate too many thoughts about what the future holds- and monitor my technological dependence by pursuing more present moment experiences- the kind that can only happen when I am fully disconnected.