Look, I like new gadgets, or I wouldn’t have started Gadgetomic. But a recent article in the NY Times takes issue with technology’s role in our lives. Gadgets, they say, have good and bad consequences. I guess every coin has 2 sides.
The article really exemplifies how technology can fragment our lives by fragmenting our concentration. My wife has often said that new gadgets can make me oblivious to the world. And there is truth in that statement. But why is that? Well, part of the equation is the physiological. It seems that dopamine is squirted in our thrill of checking facebook, or email, etc. This is definitely the case in video games that throw in a compelling world and story line (well, most of the time).
The problem is becoming the mobility of these things. There was a time, yes wee ones, when technology wasn’t so invasive. There were defined times and places for technology. This is not the case today. You can be walking in the park and be serenaded by the latest new gadgets. This requires users to set up boundaries to the usage of these things. And that isn’t easy because of their accessibility and their draw. Don’t you sometimes feel drawn to technology? Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why. Some of it is probably simple habit, comfort, and biological reinforcement.
I am amazed at the lack of “presence” in our culture. People find the hardest time just concentrating on the people in front of them or the task at hand. I increasingly see people on phones or iPads at their kid’s sporting events. And how many times have you known family members completely check out at family events? That lack of presence will result in relational consequence.
So, are new gadgets and technology evil? Certainly not! Is our culture struggling to find good boundaries for this new breed? I think so. I think it’s a very good practice to evaluate the place of technology in one’s own life and in one’s family. One very simple test is to do a complete technology abstinence for a time. Take note and observe yourself and/or your family. The results will probably surprise you.