I love technology, and I can say without hesitation that I cannot live without it. Outside of my weekly 24 hour technology purge called Shabbat, I have technology constantly on and running. No generation is able to live without their technology, as it changes the way we live, and how we experience life. Technology therefore is meant to simplify life, make it more efficient, and give us the ability to focus on other more important things. Our tablet and apps sometimes cause us to forget that technology is not a touch device, it is a tool that gives us the ability to do something consistently faster and better. A power drill, refrigerator, automobile, and even an all in one coffeemaker are all awesome examples of really great technology that makes our lives better.
The problem is when technology prevents us from experiencing life.
I had a mother tell me that her son is having withdrawals from technology after losing his iPad privledges for a month. Nightmares, vomiting, and depression as he suffered without his precious. On the bright side, she said that after months he now talks to people instead of sitting on the couch glued to his screen.
Now we can criticize the child rearing of this parent, but this will not reach the root of the problem. A grown adult is plenty capable of the above behavior. Technology is not only a tool, it is also a weapon, that if abused can seal oneself from reality. What is reality anyway?
When I saw the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset raise $1 million dollars in 36 hours on Kickstarter, I knew that this was the start of the next wave of technology experiences. A Valve developer was quoted saying that,
This will lead us to true augmentation, every time, every place.
This isn’t about augmented reality. AR is a powerful tool that gives someone the ability to break down many limitations of time and space.
This is about our consumption of experience and the technology that powers it.
The question is how, when, and how often? Avegant Glyph’s Virtual Reality Headset also made an appearance on Kickstarter showcasing a man on a train looking out the window enjoying the scenery flipping down his headset to leave the world for a new one.
What will be more memorable? What will make a deeper impression? The beauty of nature or the pixel fueled race course? Does the imagination fueled reality expose our real life experience as a stale and monotonous exercise? Maybe it numbs us to the abilty to truly live as the challenges we want to escape are the ones that in fact the very thing that makes us stronger, and more real.
Since the Great Depression the human race seems to be on a quest to use technology to leave the challenges and problems facing us on personal and communal levels. Hollywood capitalized on the vulnerability of a shattered nation, filling a “valuable psychological and ideological role, [by] providing reassurance and hope to a demoralized nation.” (digitalhistory.uh.edu). Since then we have continue to create content and technology to support it in hopes that for even a few moments a day we can leave reality for something better.
The truth is that it is better, but it isnt real.
We cannot abandon technology, but we must not make its true purpose a secondary experience.
We must not let technology prevent us from living life.