My best friend has been pestering me to download “Whats app” on my phone so that we can chat via text when ever we feel like. My neice wants me to download “Facetime” so we can talk for free when we like. The list of apps/software that I am being told to download, install and use for “all the time connectivity” seems to be endless! I just cant handle it!
I am not anti social and really enjoy talking to my friends and relatives. Some of these software and apps make it even easier to keep in touch with loved ones, especially when we live on different continents, so I value them.
But I have a horror of being always available.
Because it means I can never completely switch off or just relax. There is always someone who wants your attention and even if it is your bedtime you feel somehow pressured to respond. On holiday the temptation to check office emails is irresistible. The first thing many of us do when we get home is to switch on the laptop and look at the new mails in the inbox since 45 minutes ago! There is always some one waiting to reach us from across a time zone and the technology now allows them to do it easily. Our minds are now always alert and it seems like we can never go into sleep mode like some of our electronic devices. I find this hugely tiring mentally.
Another impact this has the inability to concentrate on one thing. I feel so anxious that I am missing something that I must do two or even three things at the same time. More and more I notice that people are always fiddling with their phone/tablet/gadget when talking to someone/watching a film/relaxing. No more the time for focusing on one thing or person at a time. It is like being hyper children who cant sit down and eat a meal at the table! Our attention spans are shrinking rapidly.
It does not end at these sort of software and apps that human beings use and can thus regulate their behaviour and use of (do not text or whatsapp or facetime people when you expect them to be sleeping!). Many of our devices and software constantly beep at us, show pop-ups on our screen, send us messages etc.: in short these systems demand our attention agressively. The intention was probably to give us useful news/information about the system. But somewhere along the line the systems have taken on a life of their own. They are now in the foreground, while we keep placating them with completing updates, blocking pop-ups, setting cookies, downloading apps, doing virus scans and many more sophisticated things, just to keep the machines and our lives running!
This invasion of technology that is constantly demanding atttention is just crazy. Mark Weiser said in the Scientific American, “the most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it…. “
I wish we could find a good balance that lets us use technology without letting it ruin our mental and emotional health!