Raise your hand if your tech runs your life. I can’t see you in the back, can you turn the flashlight on your smartphone or let your FitBit start blinking?
I wrote a paper back in 1972. My first paper. I was 10 and attending Saint James Grammar School in Red Bank. The topic escapes me, but my paper was entitled “Technology is Often Bad for Mankind”. At that time pollution was big deal and we saw things all around us trying to get us as individuals to be better. Remember the Indian Chief on the side of the road standing next to all our trash with the tear running down his cheek? That was the image I recall and what drove me to create my opinion piece. The central message was one of trade-offs, especially when it came to business. While our factories were being more efficient and cranking out products at a high rate to stay competitive in a growing global market, we were sacrificing clean air for the kids and the waterways were so bad our fish were dying. To go along with the paper, I made a poster and it got submitted to some committee in Red Bank celebrating their centennial and I won a ship in a bottle! It’s still in my office at home somewhere.
Fast-forward to today. How has technology affected us? Our workplace, our home life and relationships? Our society as a whole? I think it has solid arguments on both sides of the issue.
On the plus side, we really kind of need certain things to even function. Consider email or the smartphone. Without them we can’t communicate in the workplace or even with our grandkids! I tell many grandparents who want to be steadfast and insist their grandchildren call them or come over if they want to speak with them. That’s ok, but if you want a relationship with the grandkids where conversations are more frequent and maybe more meaningful, you better learn to text!
Is technology bad for mankind?
It really runs our lives these days. The question is, is it good or bad? Let’s consider a typical tech-savvy person and what their typical day might be like.
- The SmartPhone wakes you with a gentle and soothing alert
- You say, “Alexa, good morning”. With that, the temperature changes to 72, certain lights turn on and the weather report for the day is read.
- You check your FitBit and see that you slept for 6 hours and 33 minutes (need to work on that)
- You shower and dry off and realize you’re running low on shampoo and toothpaste. “Alexa, add toothpaste and shampoo to my cart”.
- While dressing you turn on the SmartTV and check out the local news using Hulu Live. When done, “Alexa, turn off the TV” and you head down for breakfast.
- While fixing your coffee, your SmartPhone alerts you and says it’s time to meditate
- After meditation, “Alexa, play The Doobie Brothers in the kitchen”, which will activate Sonos speakers in the kitchen. Ooooh, China Grove is playing. “Alexa, turn up the kitchen”.
- MyFitnessPal app on the SmartPhone advises you on healthy breakfast options
- Open the SmartPhone and hit the car app to start and warm-up the car while clearing your dishes from breakfast
- “Alexa, I’m leaving”, which stops the music, turns off the lights and drops the temperature to 66
- Get in the car and say, “Siri, what’s my calendar look like for today”?
- Arrive at work and throughout the day the FitBit tells you to get moving. Trying to get at least 250 steps in an hour. Fancy fireworks if you do, annoying buzzing if you don’t
- The SmartPhone reminds you about calls to make, meetings to attend and always tells you about emails.
- You remember that you need milk. “Hey Siri, remind me to get milk when I leave work” and she will remind you when the GPS in the phone realizes you left the office.
- You enter what you ate for lunch into MyFitnessPal app so you keep track of calories and such
- I check the dog camera to see how Sparky is. You notice that he used the doggie door a few times based on the alert notices on the phone each time he went in and out. You call to him and he comes up to the camera. You talk with him and make kissing noises and then dispense him a treat…”good boy Sparky”.
- The video doorbell rings on the SmartPhone. Fed Ex is at the house with a package. You open the app and talk with the delivery guy. “Can you leave it in the milk box”? “Sure, he says”. Nice guy. I have to remember to tip him at Christmas. “Hey Siri, remind me to tip the Fed Ex guy on December 15th”.
- Head home and when leaving the parking lot, the phone alerts you to stop for milk…duh
- Google Maps says there’s traffic on the normal route and sends you home a different way
- “Hey Siri, text my wife”. “What would you like to say”? “I’m stopping for milk. Do we need anything else”?
- Arrive home and “Hey Siri, open the left garage door”.
- Walk in the door and “Alexa, I’m home”. Lights come on, temperature adjusts and music starts playing. Need to figure out an app to pour me a glass of Merlot. You’ll be rich! “Hey Siri, remind me to find an app developer when I get to work tomorrow”.
With all this goodness, how can there be any bad?
OK, there’s plenty of bad. Lack of human interaction…”texting neck”…distracted driving. Loads more I’m sure, but as a tech lover I’m enjoying the more efficient ways I can get things done so that I can spend more time with my family and friends.
Technology is often life-changing for mankind. You get to decide whether it’s good or not.