If there was ever a time of having the most control over my life, I would say it’s now. The stars have aligned perfectly with our existence and the gadget industry to not only control our lives more efficiently, but in a whole, force them into submission. Yet why is it I personally don’t feel that way. Moreover, why does it seem reversed? Why do I pull to refresh for the next status update or tweet more often than I do things of substance? A more than worthy question in my humble opinion.
I have been dreaming up this article since I started using an iPhone in 2007. The interesting and maybe very telling thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to write it. I’m not sure if my hesitance was because of uncertainty on what I was feeling or me simply suppressing the truth. Either way, after years of ponder, only one thing could be said. The only fact I’ve learned is a simple one: My tech had altered my life. Some would argue in a good way. Sure, that makes sense to me on the surface, and there’s certainly enough productivity apps to support such an argument. Unfortunately all the dropboxes in the world couldn’t fix my problem. The only workflow that seamlessly fixed my problem was me.
One in my position would probably start this journey of “fixing” their tech ruled world by rewinding to the beginning. So I did. I figured laptops and desktops have been around for a bit, and I certainly owned them. So why all of sudden am I feeling like a slave to my tech? A humble conclusion on my part: Mobile.
Mobile is different. Mobile is with you. Mobile is an extension of you. Mobile slowly claims ownership of you, at least in my case. How could this happen? A cell phone certainly doesn’t aim to control you. What was I doing to let this happen? I simply wanted a phone to call,text and use an app here and there. A simple beginning to a complicated, self recognized middle.
Like any interested researcher, I had to look into the content of my subject. If my subject was my phone, then that content only pointed to one direction, Apps. And on a more personal level, I had to look into myself and how I use apps.
Apps are an amazing new technology that apple invented in 2008. Wait. Wait a second, no they aren’t. Apps have simply went on a diet and slimmed down their figure and look a whole lot more attractive. They used to be called Applications and their existence goes back as far as their elderly host hardware. So why now? Why is the glue stickier than ever between these “apps” and me.
The following two factors are mainly my personal belief and not fact supported, only privately applied and thought through. By no means do intend on solving these issues. Individually, I believe we all have the tools to solve these potential issue personally. My objective is to only shine a light on them.
There it is. In your pocket. You know, your device. All the time. Yes all the time. Isn’t it scary to think the only time you were more than 20 feet away from your current device was when you were tracking it’s shipping status on your previous? Intrusion speaks volumes to me. The attachment I felt, or connection if you will. Any where I go there it is. When does iMovie go from being a revolutionary app to an anxiety filled event because I know what it’s capable of and just don’t have the time. When does siri become more of a trust worthy companion than your long life buddy? Intrusion never allows you to rest. Simply because the security of your “safe wall” if you will, has been permanently lowered. Of course we love the technology that brings us information but something else is happening in the background. Our brains are being programmed to not search, to not inquire and most importantly, to not feel content. Laugh if you will, but don’t laugh too long to miss the writing on the wall.
It’s safe for me to say these elements were bogging me down and bogging me down in a big way. How do I fight against instant gratification? How do I control instant gratification without limiting the device I adore? We buy these phones for their features. Case in point: Push Notifications. What a great technology. Convenient, up to date, yet unknowingly training us to expect things at the very second. Push is great, it helps and it hurts, but for me personally, the hurt outweighed the help.
Instant gratification allowed my mind to become numb and possibly lazy. We all admire that information gets pushed to us almost immediately as it happens and we love the convenience of such a tool, but something should be said for receiving content in a timely, dear I say old fashioned manner. The digestion of information is something I completely lost. I used to enjoy taking time, reading a story initially, then revisiting time and time again, like a great film. Somewhere along the line, I rapidly moved from comfort reading at my own pace to falling behind in my instapaper queue. Now I’m certainly not saying instant information is a bad thing whatsoever, but its a powerful tool. To quote one of my more enjoyable films: “with great power comes great responsibility.” As I honestly look back, initially I lacked responsibility, or maybe more accurately, I didn’t know I needed it.
My solution: Don’t let those 2 I’s overcome the two on your face. Look around, see the world. Experience a great conversation once and awhile. Talk about something that you aren’t an expert on for a change. I lost that, I lost the wonder I had because I simply wikipediaed what I needed to know instead of actually experiencing it.
A more beneficial ingredient would be to listen and not google. Sure tech is great and smartphones are a great achievement in the history of man. But don’t let it define you. It was defining me to a point that I lost the things I was interested in.
Of course there are settings that I could have manipulated to simply terminate any of my issues. That’s not really the point though is it? My goal was to live with this technology, not show it the back door. The goal was to find a happy medium, there almost always is one. And seemingly, your happy medium is probably different then your friends in your contacts.app.
Although the fight is a daily battle, it’s worth it. If indeed you are a soldier in this fight, keep going. Don’t eliminate try and mediate. Take a look at your life and see what is really needed and most importantly, see what isn’t. Now, if your not in this battle and your pixels don’t hinder your life in the least bit, take this opinionated article as caution, not as confirmation. To forget or ignore something simply allows it to be born again in another form.
Stop pulling down to refresh your life. Look around. It’s liberating. I promise.