So I have this sneaking suspicion that while technology is currently intertwined with my career, and is one of the things I enjoy the most, it is destroying the society I live in.
If you work on computers, you might have noticed that sometimes a whole day can pass in what feels like a few hours, especially when the computer and Internet are working well. The effect has only been enhanced as technology has gotten better, and we have gotten used to waiting less. I am less patient with things, as I have come to expect websites to appear nearly instantly, and my computer to load up any application I require in a minute or less.
With me, my job is one hundred percent online, and I never feel like I can catch up. I start each day feeling like I am behind, and sometimes wonder if I should skip sleep just so I can keep up with the news releases, the writing I have to complete, and the social networking that will help boost my career.
There is always so much going on, and while I might be asleep here, there are amazing products, services, and information coming from around the other side of the world. Information pours into my feed reader, and sometimes piles up, as I set it aside to deal with the influx of e-mails that I get every day. Dozens of people attempt to message me through instant messaging programs, websites, and social networking applications. Managing all this information can be exhausting, and sometimes feel very unproductive.
My wife doesn’t use e-mail anymore, nor does she hang out with all her friends anymore. She contacts them through Facebook, or through an instant messaging program. They rarely talk on the phone anymore, and when they do, she sometimes carries on a conversation with someone else on the computer at the same time.
In the old days, your friends were those that lived near you, or who you grew up with, but now I have friends all over the world. I say “friends”, but how well do most of these people know me? They have never visited with me, and most have never even seen my face. Can I really consider these people my friends? Would they help me out if I were having problems?
There are some weeks where the only two faces I see are my wife’s and her cat’s and while that sounds very pathetic, it is the world that I, and many of my colleagues live in. It is why web people interested in pretty much any topic have formed a variety of groups of like-minded people, and created conferences for pretty much any interest as well. We need avenues of socialization that technology is rapidly taking away from us.
With the primary method of communication in my household being text, what are we missing out on? Everyone knows that there is more that can be said through vocal inflection, body language, and facial expressions, but these are all lost when we type them out online.
The second issue is how people communicate. They have become increasingly lazy with their spelling, grammar, and use a myriad of short forms that almost need a special decoder ring to understand. It has gotten to the point where ever shorter messaging services, like Twitter, are popular in part because they limit the amount of things you can say, which is the reverse of what I believe we need to do. Communication is the key to understanding, both ourselves and other people.
I work from home, on a computer, for fourteen hours a day. I get up to get food, water, and other such things, but I go weeks without really leaving the house for any long period of time. I don’t walk, jog, or play any sports. I am part of the growing epidemic of obese people in this world, and it is not just because it can be hard to eat healthy, but also because I live a very stationary lifestyle.
Why is that? Well, I communicate through computers, listen to music on my computer, watch television on my computer and pretty much do everything that is currently possible with a computer, on a computer.
While technology has done many things to advance our lives, and make it easier to live, access vast stores of information and entertain ourselves, I sometimes feel that we have lost some of the pleasures of life that technology can’t easily replace.
Have you noticed an adverse effect on society due to technology? Have you and your family been able to avoid the less than helpful side effects of living in this modern world? What do you think society will be like in twenty or fifty years? Have your say in the comments below.