How long have smartphones been around now? I forget, but something tells me quite some time. I’ve only had one for about two and a half years, and already I can’t remember my life before it. Well, that’s a lie; I can and it was a tango of frustration and bliss all at the same time, but what I mean is I couldn’t imagine being without one now, which I suppose is the way most of us feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I value being present and experiencing the beauty and magic of the now more than anything else, but when I’m lost in the middle of a new city desperate to make it to a show on time, I thank technology for Google Maps. When I need to check the train times on the go so I can plan my journey, again I am grateful for the National Rail app. When I want to plan a trip with a faraway amiga, I am appreciative of Whatsapp and how it allows me to update her with my thoughts.
So there are obviously many pros to having such a device at the ready and we’re at a time where you kind of have to just accept that this is the way things are now. Technology has this way of advancing exponentially and trying to fight it only leaves you frustrated and isolated. Instead, I believe you must find a way to make it work with you, rather than viewing it as the enemy and root cause of all the problems in your life.
Think about it: a phone is just a phone. It is not a living organism shackling us in chains and forcing us to use it 24/7, it is simply a device able to help us connect with others and gather information. It is our human nature that causes the issues: the addiction, the obsession, the wars waged.
So what do I struggle with most? Firstly, it is the fear of missing out, or rather the frustration of seeing constant updates of epic travels or exciting events being experienced by those who are not me. If it’s my friends, then of course I am happy for them, but I think we can all agree that after having a long day at work, when it’s the dead of winter and you’ve got sideways rain coming at you, seeing an update from a buddy at the beach just really doesn’t make you feel all that swell.
In the same way that we don’t post pictures of ourselves after we’ve woken up after 2 hours sleep, red-faced, baggy-eyed and looking rather corpse-like, we also don’t update the world when we’re having a monotonous day. That thought helps me when I feel as though I’m the only one not having the trip of a lifetime.
Secondly, I fear that our obsession with incorporating technology into every aspect of our lives makes for a world more like the matrix than anything ‘natural’. My brother raised a good question though: would the matrix really be so bad? Of course you’d have to absolutely guarantee that you could never awake from your deep sleep, but in theory you could have everything you ever wanted in that virtual world, without the struggles of health issues, finances and familial circumstances. Would you do it? Would you commit your body to a capsule of sorts – kept alive but immobile – so your mind could take you elsewhere to a reality far better than you could ever experience in truth.
That might be one of those things much like our universe is to me: mind-boggling. If I spend too much time thinking about universal expansion and space and time I feel the cogs in my skull throb and I quickly retire to thoughts of kittens and how simply wonderful they are.
I’m only 25, relatively young by western standards and considered to be in the mix of the generation capable of handling whatever technological advances are thrown our way. But the truth is that I am overwhelmed and still trying to understand what this means to me. It’s not the learning of the apparatus or protocol, it’s how it opens my eyes to the flaws in my human nature and that of others. And it is those flaws, those shadow aspects to ourselves that we must address if are going to develop harmoniously in tandem with every advance propelled into our future. Technology will either save us, or it will destroy us and it all comes down to which thoughts conjunct.