I always wonder if technology rules me or I rule technology. When I was young, I did not have to think much on this subject. But, as I grew older, technology seems to have taken over my life. While I am a great fan of technology, I sometimes wonder if technology helps me or harms me in my every day life. Let us take the simple example of the mobile phone. There is research around the world that the mobile is never more than three feet away from a human being at any point of the day or night. This means that we depend more on the mobile than the mobile depends on us.
I think all of us have immensely benefited from technology. I grew up when we had not seen the advent of computers. We did not even have the television in our homes. So, the journey from living in an era of no mobiles, TV or computers to an age where the world is fully digitised has been an exciting one. I remember the early days in my career when I had to travel more than ten kilometres to make a long distance call after waiting for my turn in a long queue. It used to take hours of waiting in long queues and we paid through our nose for talking to our parents for just a few minutes using long distance telephone calls.
Today technology touches us in every aspect of our life. If we refelect on it, from the time we get up from bed till we sleep, technology supports us in many ways. We are woken up by the alarm on our mobile phones and do not need the sound of birds or the classic alarm clock with us. Then, we do not need to read the newspapers to know what has happened around the world. We are connected to the world through our mobile apps and we get alerted of news events around the world within minutes of its occurrence.
If we extend to the work place, computers have changed the way we work. The work place is no more sacrosanct. Work moves along with you wherever you are in the world. The ubiquitous mobile phone helps you as an office assistant with calendar reminders, emails, clock, fitness tracker and many more useful aids. We are connected with the world on the internet and decisions are taken on issues by people sitting in different parts of the world seamlessly. All this has been possible only due to the advent of technology.
Hence, in spite of all these benefits, why do we feel that technology is managing us rather than we managing it. It may be because of our greedy nature. It may be because we have become over dependant on technology. I remember that we used to have the landline numbers of most of our family and friends in our memory. Today thanks to the mobile phone we do not even remember the numbers of our close family members. Some may argue that this is convenience and hence we need not remember any phone numbers any more. I agree. But, there seems to be a side effect and we need to worry about that.
The side effect of technology overwhelming us is that we are losing our humanness. We do not remember the birthdays of our family, friends or colleagues. We do not have the time to visit a dear one in a hospital. We have no time to play with our kids in the park. We have no time to admire and enjoy nature. We are more content by the number of likes to a post on social media. We get depressed if nobody comments on our post for a few minutes.
Like in the photo above while bluetooth headphones can be a great technology to listen to music, it may sometimes make you inattentive to people around you.
I believe technology is a great enabler for us. But, may be it is time to touch people and use technology. We are ending up using people and touching technology. Technology does not have emotions but people have. Let us resolve to share our feelings with our near and dear rather than use technology to do so.
Today is the most auspicious day to begin. Lets just do it.
S Ramesh Shankar