Chris is a high school teacher in Canada and mom of two children.
What Do We Do With Ourselves?
Our reliance on technology knows no bounds. Why, without technology, we wouldn’t have the boon to entertainment known as Netflix. If we didn’t have technology, we wouldn’t be able to reheat coffee in the microwave, we would be endlessly lost because we’d have to actually read a map instead of relying on a GPS, and we wouldn’t be able to entertain our kids because we couldn’t just give them a tablet and expect that they’d occupy themselves for hours on end.
In all seriousness, many of us rely on technological advancements like laptops and tablets because of what we do for a living. Bankers, for instance, would certainly be lost today unless technology kept up with what they were doing. Those who are responsible for mutual funds might have to go back to the “old days” of reading a ticker tape in order to see whether a stock has gone up or down. Newspaper reporters wouldn’t be able to simply conduct research via search engines, FaceTime, or phone calls—they might actually have to physically see the person about whom they are writing a story.
Even teachers maintain a certain reliance on technology. Photocopiers have now become multifaceted, operating as printers, fax machines, and scanners with email capabilities! When these machines go down, teachers tend to get a little lost, as they have become quite reliant on photocopiers to ensure that their lessons are able to be executed and students have copies of everything they need. If a teacher today actually has to write notes on the board, there might be jokes about how they are kicking it “old school,” with students complaining about how their hands are starting to hurt from writing so much.
We use technology for instant translations when we’re taking language classes—ask any teacher of languages and they will tell you of the bane that is Google Translate. And in today's day and age, we commonly use technology for instant gratification, whether it’s because we need the distraction of playing some sort of online game or we want to text someone. Sometimes people will comment (rather wistfully) about times when we didn’t have technology, and how nice it would be if we could only disconnect. Yet when we do disconnect, there are many of us who become so restless (perhaps even jumpy), that we don't know what to do with ourselves.
Are We More Impatient When Tech Fails?
Nowadays, we use technology for sharing our experiences and our lives. Take siblings that live far apart. One wants to keep up with what the other is doing, so what happens? They certainly don’t write letters anymore—that takes too long! So, either a text message is shot out into the ether, a FaceTime or Facebook video call is placed, or images are streaked back and forth through the messaging app of their choice to show them what, exactly, everyone has been up to. In many respects, technology has been an amazing innovation to bring families closer when it used to take weeks or months to send mail back and forth.
Granted, there was a certain excitement that came with waiting for a letter to come for you in the mail. For example, when someone was touring some far-off land, postcards they sent home were things to be treasured when they came. But now that we can simply post images on Facebook, or videos on YouTube, or send pictures via text messaging, there seems to be a little bit of that magic lost. We have almost come to expect instantaneous communication, and when it doesn’t happen, we are at a bit of a loss. We might even wonder if the other person is okay or if they are annoyed at us somehow.
Have you ever noticed that even when a microwave seems to take forever to reheat your coffee, that it's easy to begin to think that the problem doesn’t lie with the device itself, but that it lies within you? That's because we live in such a world where everything has become so instant. We are now almost ridiculously unprepared to the point of almost being impaired by our impatience. As things become more instantaneous, we have become increasingly short-fused, and while technology has been a marvelous tool, perhaps it is time to move even a little bit the other way. Perhaps we need that implemented “tech-free time” in order to remind ourselves that not everything is only seconds away, so that we can regain some of that calm and anticipation we used to have when it came to the simple act of communication.
To Have Time Without Tech, or Not?
Perhaps we need some of that tech-less time so that we are reminded that the best things to come are really worth waiting or working for. Even in classrooms, where technology has become a marvelous if not invaluable tool, students have learned in many respects how to use technology’s powers for evil, so to speak. No one needs to truly know anything when Google is around, and thoughts of going anywhere without your smartphone in tow seems to be greeted with incredulity if not dismay.
Technology, while a wonderful tool, should be treated as exactly that—a tool—not a life source. We often joke about the current generation needing to document every moment of their lives through selfies and videos. But is it really that funny when so many of them have that need to the point of being incredibly angry when their tech is taken from them?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go Snapchat my friend and post this blog. I’ll FaceTime you later.
Technology and Family Life
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.