Watching a couple of relatively new movies on NetFlix recently I was struck by how well they are now integrating daily technology into the story lines. Everyone in a contemporary film has/uses smart-phones, communicates via texting, and is adept on a laptop. In espionage and thrillers (e.g. James Bond), they take it to an extreme that may not be realistic but it’s often not too far out of touch with reality. But, when it comes to everyday stories, I suspect it’s very touched by reality and that is my concern.
What is the societal and cultural fallout from the pervasive use of technology today? It is more pernicious among kids and young adults, clearly, but I’m an old dude and I’m “addicted” to my tech as much as anyone. Is that why I’ve developed a bowling ball gut? Is that why obesity is at its highest levels in U.S. history?
Like most things, there’s a middle ground and there’s NO DOUBT that much of what tech offers us in wonderful. Information at your fingertips is beyond cool. Directions to anywhere from your cell-phone are priceless. At least my wife won’t get lost. The list of good things is endless, but sadly the negative costs are equally endless, particularly among the generation than knows nothing else.
I choose to bring tech into my life but I well remember when it wasn’t there and I can stop at any time. When I was sick recently, I simply allowed emails to accumulate and didn’t even meet my regular posting schedule on my website. Yes, I panicked when my laptop was stolen and was highly anxious during the time it took to get a new one and get all my data restored but would that have been much different if my wallet was stolen? Not much.
Hashtags are now ubiquitous. Every news show uses them as does every Award show and just about every movie and network drama or comedy. Giving out your Twitter handle is probably done more often than sharing your phone number. Phone2Phone sharing is done and even business cards may go the way of the rotary telephone.
Who prints photographs anymore? Who takes the time and care to place printed photos in photo albums? I used to do it with painstaking pride and love. My boys – while completely tech-consumed – still love to go through those old photo books from their childhood. Is a digital photo frame really the same?
Is life now all reduced to sound and video-bites? Vine exists solely because of the brevity of its format. When Instagram added video, they limited its length to 15 seconds. I suspect that was to avoid the music license issues, but I’m not sure that that even ultimately mattered. Short is good it seems except…I won’t go there.
Are we at a tipping point where the use of technology is degrading our humanity? I wonder?