Plug me in: Technology isn’t the problem

- November 19, 2013 3 MIN READ

It’s no secret I love technology. My phone that connects me to the internet and my email and my website, that lets me open browser windows on my tablet or computer as I walk through the house researching, ranting, or obsessing, is practically glued to my hand. My boyfriend is convinced I will somehow get an implant into my head the moment it becomes even remotely viable to do so. I have phantom vibration syndrome and I don’t care. I have embraced our Wi-Fi overloads with great enthusiasm.

This is partially because of my career choice as a self-employed writer. I can work for whom I want, when I want, and this type of technology not only makes my job easier, it makes it possible. I love it, and find it an enrichment of most things I do. I love it so much, that I admit, I find anti-technology junkies incredibly irritating as I bask in the cool blue glow of 100 backlit screens.

Before I get a hundred angry emails, I want to clarify. I understand a lot of the critiques of being as plugged in as say, I am, as I write this article, text my friend, tweet my feelings, and send my mother a Facebook message. I know that the government is watching us, that we share too much about ourselves, that no one needs to see that picture of you throwing up outside prom, and that FOMO is a real thing and it’s a real problem. I also know that kids are getting arrested for having child pornography because of what their phones can do.

I went to university with a girl who failed out her classes because she was addicted to World of Warcraft. But if I see one more random hipster tell me they only use their phones for calls, or they try and practice a more ‘mindful life away from technology’ I am going to throw my much beloved phone at someone’s head.

Here’s the thing. People’s lives can be seriously affected by technology in serious ways, but the technology itself is the medium, not the message. Most of these problems are not new, in and of themselves. They are just, as my math teacher used to say, an old friend in a new hat. Addiction has been around since there has been something to be addicted to, and I had FOMO in junior high whenever I was hanging out doing something and someone more popular that I was gave me a second look.

This is not the fault of technology. This is the fault of years and years of not pursuing meaningful fulfillment elsewhere in our lives and then suddenly being able to find it for a few hours in a game. This is the fault of not teaching our boys to be respectful to girls and boundaries. This is the fault of not telling our kids they are wonderful just the way they are, or logging online instead of having a meaningful discussion with a spouse.

If you can blame technology for those problems in your life, maybe you are wise to step away. Maybe you are unable to use this medium responsibly and that is your choice. However, your life is not necessarily more fulfilled than mine because you decline to use email, and write your letters by hand. Maybe in doing so, you’re trying to find an identity in rejecting what is around us, maybe not. Regardless, technological innovation is not moving backwards, and instead is acting as a magnifying glass for things that we keep ignoring as our society marches on at a faster and faster pace. Perhaps instead of shooting the messenger, we should listen to what it has to say.

Image courtesy of Hour Detroit.