From the time we strapped on our first personal wristwatch we've been on the path that could someday lead to us being addicted to our personal technology. How clearly I can still recall my very first tech toy. It was a very basic remote control car powered by a D-cell battery and some imagination. Driving it up and down the sidewalk with a remote control seemed just like magic. Today I'm still into radio controlled "toys" having graduated to drones a year or so back. Then there is the 3D printer sitting in the corner, not to mention enough tech in my home to qualify me as a geek. I certainly have a lot of tech around me, right down to my electric powered wheelchair;(I blame it all on Isaac Asimov) but am I addicted to it? We shall see!
Maybe it isn't so much the using of technology as it is what we are using it for.
Smart phones as we know them today arrived on the scene pretty much with the new millennium. Since that time they've steadily entwined and entrenched themselves into our society, and lives by the simple virtue of being indispensable to us. Soon after its arrival early in the millennium; the smart phone became all your favorite tech gadgets in one device. Phone, HD camera, camcorder, text & email, google maps, all your music; and literally thousands and thousands of apps to download for extra multi-tasking ability. What's not to love??
20 years later, in today's society & culture there are those who simply cannot get through a day without their tech. Then there are also those who abstain & avoid tech like the plague. I think most of us fall somewhere in between those two extremes; as more and more; being tech literate and tech functional can greatly alter your experience. I think maybe in the big picture we want the technology to enhance our experience in this place; but not define it.
Our devices are just fancy gadgets after all, totally optional. Nothing about them is required for us to survive day to day; although having the technology and knowing how to use it can actually, literally save your life in many instances. Like a lost hiker without his compass, throw most of us into free range society without our cell phone, and we likely will feel a little lost until logic kicks in.
Even those who manage to avoid using technology still must struggle with some of it's symptoms on nearly a daily basis because society is increasingly digital and hooked-up. Even if you never give the idea of technology addiction much thought; you usually find out which group you're in about the time you are forced to go a few days without it for whatever reason.
For the last month or so California has been getting the rain we've been praying for; almost too much of it as evidenced by the recent problems at America's tallest dam in Oroville California. Three weeks back it was my neck of the woods that got hammered, and we spent several consecutive days without power, due to multiple mudslides, river flooding and trees falling on the power lines.
No worries for me, my house is high and dry, so I just break out the candles & portable propane heater and I'm good to go. I really do love my technology, but since I don't do the social media thing, I don't go into a panic attack when everything is out. Actually when the power drops, so does the electromagnetic grid around us. It may not be that noticeable to a lot of you, but it is for me because of my years living in
without electricity. All the wires & conduits in our dwellings create that
electromagnetic grid, like a cage of
energy all around us. As long as
you're inside your dwelling you cannot escape it, until the power goes off.
Unfortunately most folks miss something kind of beautiful in those first moments after the power fails & everything goes dark and quiet. They're instantly so concerned with when it will come back on & finding candles that they miss it. Those of us attuned to such things can actually feel the electromagnetic grid collapse when the power goes; not unlike being under a blanket and then someone gently pulls the blanket off. It's a subtle sensation when the power drops; next time it happens to you, try to be aware of those first few moments and you'll see what I mean.
So, when the power goes out what do most of us do? We usually do pretty much what our ancestors did before subdivisions were invented. We light a fire, (candles/lanterns) and sit around in one room discussing the dark, and when it will end so we can get back to our lives. If the outage continues for several days as they often do, everything goes down including land line telephones. For those stranded at home for several days due to mudslides or trees blocking the road, something kinda interesting happens. Our metabolic rates begin to return to a more natural configuration.
Stores and businesses are hardest hit when the power goes because their computerized cash registers won't work and they have to do math with pen and paper. Not a skill most people still have; it's what happens to a muscle we stop using. We're so used to our devices calculating everything for us except for the price of a soul, that we forgot basic math, so it no longer comes natural or easily to us. Same with phone numbers. If you lost your phone and had to use a phone booth (providing you can still find one) how many peoples phone numbers do you have memorized?
We humans are social creatures first and foremost. Only the few will elect to exist alone in total solitude; while the greater majority seek each other out. Long ago one would have their set number of places they visited, in their area. Like a game trail. People knew that the larger their circuit of people & places, the greater chance of survival, and perhaps even prosperity. Our circuits, or 'game trails' intersected with those of others, exponentially increasing contacts, experience and knowledge. It's how we came to understand our world, and ourselves; thru the various mirrors we encountered.
The idea was that the more people in your bubble, the better the chance of meeting someone who could really help with a boost up in life. Nowadays we do pretty much the same thing, except technology has allowed us to expand our various 'game trails' to pretty much cover the globe. We say we are connected, but are we really?
Knowledge used to be what you had in your head. Eventually it became what you had in your head plus what books you have collected in your personal library. Nowadays essentially all knowledge is available on the internet and thru the air like magic to your smart phone; which is hundreds of times more sophisticated that the computers the astronauts took to the moon. Need to know how to do something? Just Google it! Today you really don't have to carry much knowledge in your head as long as you have a wi-fi connection for your smart phone. What about when the power goes out for a couple days; how does that affect your ability to function? What if it was gone for a week or more?
Studies began showing several years ago that we increasingly tend to feel cut off and isolated without our mobile tech. As you might imagine they named it, Nomophobia: for no mobile phone. Those studies reveal some very interesting sets of data.
83% of the population have mobile phones
35% of mobile users are using smart phones
58% of smart phone users don't go an hour without checking their phone
38% of college students cannot go ten minutes without checking their phone
60% of people surveyed said they have fallen asleep holding their phone
As for the most common/popular activities with smart phone users:
75% texting with other people
55% sending photos & videos
44% Accessing the internet
38% Social Networking
What would you go without for a week instead of your phone?
70% of those surveyed said Alcohol
63% of those surveyed said Chocolate
33% of those surveyed said Sex
I have this dear friend who I secretly believe is the Queen of social media; as she was a pro at it long before I ever got my first smart phone. If you are lucky enough to exist in her realm it is with the tacit understanding you'll usually only see her by that faint blue light across her face. Don't mistake me, when in conversation she makes eye contact the way we all prefer; but when the conversation fades or gives way to the tube, she's checking her universe on the phone. As a neighbor, when I lose power so does she and during those several days of blackout we experienced; she not only weathered the separation better than I might have expected, but she took some walks to photograph the damage on her phone, proving it is her servant, not master!
When your notification alert, or push alerts go off; can you put off checking until current tasks are finished or do you pause and check the phone? If you do delay the checking, do you feel at all anxious the longer you put it off? If so, you may have Nomophobia.
Everywhere we go where people gather, nowadays it's always groups of people all staring into their devices. Proper manners & decorum dictate we turn our devices off when attending gatherings such as church or movies, you know, the real important stuff; but as soon as class, mass or movie is adjourned what do we see but a sea of migrating humanity all staring down into their screens to see what they missed!
Aside from the very real chance of getting run over in such a stampede, or by something unseen off screen; there may be some health risks associated with using smart phones. Early on some experts claimed that cell phone antennas might cause brain cancer. Not sufficiently scary enough for us, we just worked around it, willing to take that risk to have so much power at our fingertips.
Then came Bluetooth technology (named after a Danish king) to keep all of our various devices all synched & updated at once everywhere without wires. Because now we cannot possibly limit ourselves to just a smart phone; we also have need of tablets and personal digital assistants to ensure our personal kingdom of life is running smoothly; which means our children pretty much need phones if we are to keep them in our cyber loop. Children with smart phones; yes I definitely see the need for it, as well as some obvious drawbacks. If your kids are gonna have cell phones it just means their addiction starts sooner. Maybe there should be an app for teaching how not to become dependent on technology. Already is one?!? figures.
Besides whatever health risks we may be flirting with; owning a smart phone has other downsides as well; your personal safety and security. Unless you take the necessary countermeasures beforehand, you phone can be turned into a rat fink snitch; telling just where you are, who you've been in contact with and where you are going. Unless you turn them off, the microphone and camera on your phone and laptop can be used to listen in on and spy on you in real time. Government & police agencies love this technology because you freely post all the information they could ever want about you; it makes their job that much easier. Corporations love this technology because they can see every purchase you make, then design a personal profile of your preferences and use that to market directly to you on your phone and computer. Google an item for any reason and before you know it, ads for that exact item start appearing, click here, instant gratification.
Now it isn't the devices alone that can become addicting and demanding of our attention; it's really a combination of the hardware and software. Software apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and others are all vying for your attention, clicks, likes, and disposable income. I tried doing the Facebook thing a few years back; but continually felt more alienated and offended by it than anything else. Then when it was disclosed that Facebook was deliberately tweaking, & controlling the news feeds to see what would anger users. I had to kick Facebook to the curb for that one, and now they are one of the leading purveyors of fake news on the internet.
Do you know what every chip in your phone does? Do you know it makes a daily map of your movements? Do you know your phone can regularly send data about you to the manufacturer? Depending upon how security conscious you are, your smart phone might be your best friend or worst enemy. Especially with the advancements made with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and placing those devices in your home thru seductive marketing.
Yes, I have a lot of high technology stuff in my home office, but I absolutely draw the line at AI. I will not abide having a technology that can hear and understand my speech, record it, & then send it to the cloud or elsewhere without my knowledge. Now Amazon has developed the hyper-sexy Echo & Alexa listening devices that sit inconspicuously on your table and listen to every word said. I know, I know; they say these devices aren't used for spying on us and only activate to a key sequence of words, but why then is there no off button?
Voice activated AI devices are even embedded in many TV system remotes. The one from Comcast supposedly only activates with the push of a button; but I don't believe it. To illustrate my point here; there are currently at least two legal cases being decided involving this technology. One is a murder case where the "Echo" device is thought to have recorded a killing in progress. In another case the Amazon Alexa unit overheard two children talking about a specific (expensive) doll they wanted; so Amazon shipped the doll and billed the parents account! Now that is a predatory business practice!
There are even AI circuits in our cars like "eyesight" and adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. Such things may well take some of the old worries out of driving, and perhaps put some new ones in as well. These new automotive features can all be hacked by outsiders who then can take complete control of your car while you are in it! This is one of the main reasons we don't see fleets of driverless cars. The technology is ready except for not being hack-proof, and until they fix that loophole, no driverless Uber fleets any time soon. But maybe not; never underestimate the power of corruption! If they can make the kids in
Flint drink leaded water they
can authorize hackable driverless cars.
Then there is the Snowden factor to consider: as in our government is watching us, following us, and listening to our conversations all via our use of technology. The more we use the easier we make their job. The operational philosophy of these alphabet agencies is simple; "We want it all" Not just the terrorists, enemies of the state, or drug cartels; they want it all. Besides it's so much easier that way. They just scoop up everything, and have their sniffing programs filter thru the haul looking for any one of thousands of buzz-words. Say the word "president" or "Allah" on your phone, that conversation gets flagged for analysis, you get flagged for analysis!
Google is currently working on AI web-bots to scrub the net of the most toxic trolls. They are teaching the bots not just word recognition, but syntax and context as well. Once the field of parameters is complete these bots can then be sent out to silence toxic trolls, as well as any other citizen using their right to free speech, if that speech offends those in control.
"Don't be Evil" guys...remember that?
Our phones are our lifelines to everyone we know and hold close to our hearts; and that is why we feel the way we do when it suddenly isn't there for an undefined length of time. That phone has become more than just a device, it has become a daily partner which you interact with continually during the day. The phone has become so a part of us that some never turn it off. It is always there, even sometimes when we inwardly wish we could be free from that electronic tether.
Then at the end of the day we reach the safety of home after a long day working; slap the phone in the charger, get some food and before ya know it we're transfixed by a larger screen with programming designed to spy on us and keep us from being alone with our own thoughts. If you don't think keeping your attention isn't a major effort then consider that this year the cost of a thirty second super bowl commercial was five million bucks!
There is something else we could all do with our personal technology; we could use it as a social weapon of equality. Remember the "Arab Spring," it wasn't so long ago. I think
could use a spring cleaning like that. Properly
done it could bring a million voices together to demand accountability from our
so called elected officials. Use your technology
to amplify your voice & your
intention that the list of shit powerful people can get away with is officially
too fucking long; and we ain't gonna take it anymore. We can connect with each other as never
before and start the engines of reform without waiting another 60 years for to
do it for us. Or we could just watch
porn & send dick pics until the
apocalypse washes over us all; but that seems such a waste. Washington
In your hands you hold the power to transform this place in every meaningful way.
Rise as one.
© 2017 full re-post with permission only
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