Those of us who have been around for more than twenty years know very well just how pervasively modern technology, particularly that of personal computing and mobile phones, gaming and electronics in general, have changed our lives. We have seen these technologies revolutionise the way we do just about everything and all of this has come about in a comparatively short amount of time.
I well remember the days when letters to my mother in New Zealand would take around two to three weeks to arrive from India and then the turn around was often the same if not longer. It would take weeks to exchange our news and by the time the letters arrived, the news was well and truly out of date.
Probably not too much has changed with postal timings except that we hardly ever send letters these days, preferring the instant messaging of email and whatsapp. I even remember the wind up telephone in my grand parents house and the party line that was shared with other Motueka residents. One would pick up the mouth piece, turn the handle a few times and hear a voice saying; what number please? Although mail is still very much in use other forms of communication are quickly falling into disuse and becoming the dinosaurs of recent technology.
From shopping and banking through to how we access information, how we read, how we interact, even how we work, these changes have infiltrated every level and facet of society. There are not many areas of our lives now that are not in some way touched by the innovations of the digital age.
We older folk, were well acquainted with the good old days of snail mail and land lines and my generation is by no means old. We knew all about waiting in cues at the library in order to borrow a certain book. The days of newspapers and telegrams and fax machines, of trudging to the bank and standing in the line waiting for a teller to transact our business, these were all very much a part of day to day reality. Now, there are so many ways in which computers and mobiles have changed our lives in these past few short years that it would take up too much space to mention all of them.
Those of my generation and older could never have dreamt in our younger years that our lives could be changed so dramatically and in such a short time. Yet here we are, using all this stuff as though this is the way things have always been…! My mother, who is now in her early eighties has wi-fi in her home and never goes anywhere without her mobile phone and her ipad. In recent years when I have gone to visit her I would often rise early in the morning and find her already propped up in bed, a cup of coffee on the side table, her ginger cat curled up nearby and her ipad firmly and squarely in front of her eyeballs.
A whole new computer language has sprung up. Digital technology has moved into our lives and it looks set to stick around. Our greatest challenge now seems to be how keep apace with it. On a recent trip to Australia I found it particularly frustrating to note how extensively electronic voices have taken over our everyday telephone business communications, how pervasive the electronic voice is at the end of almost all dialling tones, how difficult it is to actually just connect to another human being. With basic services being increasingly digitised the human element is being subsumed by pre-programmed electronic non beings that infer that all transactions must be standardised. Slip out from the stereotypes and you are in trouble. Being out of society for periods of time and then returning to it again can help to underline the pace of the rapid changes that are sweeping the entire planet.
We would do well to step back occasionally and review the manner in which technology, in all of its various forms, is impacting our lives. This is vital if we want to remain at the helm of our own vessel. It’s all too easy to calmly glide into the vortex of an ever more invasive technological society without actually noticing our shift. Many are scarcely aware that we are drifting towards a digital black hole which is about to consume us. Once artificial intelligence takes hold we will be dealing with a whole new ball game.
Those of us already pondering the effects, both positive and negative, of the various types of technology now being developed can at times feel like prisoners on the ramp of a sinking ship, caught between our choice of quick or delayed drowning. Of course it need not and certainly is not all negative but we would do well to proceed into this period of digitisation with some semblance of conscious awareness.
In the up and coming four articles, we will be examining how technology affects us, what all of this can mean for us and future generations, and how it is impacting the way we live, not just physically but in far more subtle ways. We will explore what it could bring in the future and why we should take the time to become more aware of the inner effects of the technologies that we use so unquestioningly. There is a fine line drawn between the useful tool and the all consuming one.
There can be no doubt that our digital age has extraordinary and beneficial advantages but nothing in the material world comes to us without a price. What is the price of digital technology? Can we offset the dangers by being more aware or are we all inextricably caught up in this seemingly unstoppable electronic tide? At the end of the day we must observe that digital technology should not be labelled as either good or bad it is simply and unquestioningly a powerful tool.
How each of us responds to and makes use of this power is really up to us. It places us each in a position of responsibility that we can either acknowledge or ignore, but which ever the case may be no part of our lives will remain untouched. What are the ways in which we are all affected by these modern technologies, not just physically, emotionally and mentally but also spiritually?
Share this Post