Saturday, March 06, 2010

Technology ambiguity

Just a thought conference organizers...perhaps a plate heaped with meat followed by a thick slab of sugar pie doused in heavy cream is not the best lunch to offer to people who have to sit in slightly warm rooms for the next 4 hours. My 3:00 crash is going to be fierce.

But my real reason for ambiguity. I both love and hate the technology. This morning I woke up and I was craving something. No, it wasn't just a fresh fruit or turned out to be the internet. I don't have a cellphone or a laptop so I have been internet free since Wednesday night.

When I found the conference internet cafe this morning I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Check email, check Facebook, check Twitter, check work email (ack!), check Google Reader. Ahhhhhhhhh. I love the internets.

And yet, when I really thought about it, the last two nights have been great. I've walked around the city, enjoyed good food with good company and read my book until I fell asleep. I was fully present in what I was doing and unlike my dinner companions I wasn't distracted by my phone beeping and booping. In fact I felt remarkably calm and satisfied.

So I started noticing just how much the people are tethered to their phones! And their laptops! They are constantly checking, checking, checking. It feels like they are missing what's happening right in front of them so they can be up to date on what's happening everywhere else.

That's it, that's my technology ambiguity. I love the capacity the internet has for entertaining me and keeping me connected to the people I love. I love the convenience of being able to call home from the grocery store to check if we need more milk. I hate that people can't seem to turn it off. I hate the idea that a huge segment of the population is missing out on their own life.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - you articulate how technology paradoxically strips us of social relations, while appearing to strenghthen them.

Sterling Lynch said...

I agree that people should make an effort to be fully present in their lives.

Technologies are tools, it is up to people to decide how to use them. Long before laptops, people found many other ways to distract themselves. Books can be characterized as a distraction, for example.