I think that Daniel Pinchbeck said it best when he said that at times our lives seem controlled by 'little glowing screens'. Everywhere I look on campus I see people checking their phones, texting (often times while walking...into things) checking e-mail, twitter, facebook, google+ and whatever else the newest social networking fad may be. We had an interesting lecture in my Ethics course today. A lecture that I think is very relevant to society and my generation in particular. The topic was technology, and was spurred when the recent death of Steve Jobs (of Apple) arose in conversation. Thanks to our new found technology, we are constantly bombarded with new information, communication, and entertainment. Many of my generation feel as if they must have their 'smartphones' with them at all times, equating going without a phone nearly to going without clothing. It has be come almost unimaginable to go a day without checking your Facebook or Twitter...I mean, you might miss something! Right?
The questions that come up when addressing this new technology are many: Are we any better for it? Are people using this technology to learn, to further themselves as intellectual beings, or simply for distraction? Will be continue to empty our pocketbooks for that new piece of mobile technology in fear of becoming obsolete?
We have all heard the praises of the mobile communications revolution, and most of us (myself included) appreciate the ability to communicate more easily with people on a day to day basis. Ideas can now be spread faster than ever before, and that is truly amazing to consider. This technology we possess is very powerful, and as such we must respect it and not abuse it. This is where I feel ethics come into play.
I have noticed on a personal level that I spend more and more time checking things on my phone, my laptop, texting, e-mailing etc. - If I am spending time doing that, I am taking time away from other things I could be doing. Most importantly (and tragically) I am taking my awareness out of my present surroundings and focusing on a 'little flashing screen'. I no longer own a television, and as such I have taken up reading to a much greater extent than I have before. But I also can't deny that I spend more time on the computer (and the internet) than I feel is truly healthy.
When we become accustomed to having new information in front of us at every moment, it's hard to break away and simply exist. To read. Write. Meditate.
We cannot put this blame on Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak or any of the other innovators of technology. They create the technology, it is the end user that must responsibly use it.
In writing this post I simply want to make others think about this topic. How much time do you spend on your cell phone, laptop, or watching television? It might surprise you.
In my quest to simplify life I am going to strive to spend less of my time engaged with these little screens, and spend more time with the people I love, and the simplicity of just living life.
Thoughts, questions, rants? Feel free to comment.