Tech Is Here To Stay. Are We Happy With This?
Picture life 20 years ago. Mobile phones were just starting to spread and were by no means something that everyone had. The mothers of those among us who are now in their 30s had to rely on pagers or payphones, but there was nothing even resembling the kind of connectedness that we have now. Now, everyone has at least one cell phone, many have more than one plus a tablet. It has somehow become impossible to stay out of touch. But is this a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s take a look at both sides of the issue.
Wireless tech has very definitely reduced the anxiety of not knowing what your nearest and dearest are doing at some point in time, of where they are and, most importantly, if they are okay. Today, you don’t need to wait for your partner to call you and tell you he landed successfully in, say, Florida. You could reach him at almost any time and check for yourself. You don’t need to worry so much if your daughter is late coming home from a party, you only need to call and remind her that she has a home to come to and it’s a school day tomorrow. And how about running late for a work appointment and getting stuck in traffic? You just take out your cell and warn those who will be waiting for you that you’ll be late, avoiding much unnecessary stress. In short, communications tech has done a load of good for anxieties with which people have been living throughout history. This looks like a great thing but, like all great things, it has come at a price.
To begin with, becoming reachable at all times has limited our personal space in a unique way. Perhaps most of us can’t even consider turning off our cell phones for more than the length of a movie. Even for that we don’t need to turn them off, we could just go to silent mode. We have become so used to being in touch constantly that the thought of being out of touch has started to sound scary. Although this is not an issue when it comes to friends and family, it could be a negative thing when it comes to work relations; it means that your boss can reach you anytime, anywhere, unless, that is, you turn off your cell or have the will power not to respond to calls you don’t want. The sense of personal space varies greatly between people, so the above may not be considered a problem at all by many, but others may find themselves feeling increasingly stressed and not knowing why. Try turning off your phone or going into silent, and see if you feel better.
Another thing wireless communication has given us is a whole new set of anxieties, to replace the old, traditional ones. Yes, you don’t have to wait and worry if your son made it to his college in his old car, you can just pick up your cell and call him to check, but what if he doesn’t answer the call? That’s right, the age-old fear is back within a single second and you start running scenarios through your head. They may not be all bad scenarios, but some of them will be. It looks like modern communication tech has had a boosting effect on our imagination; we are so used to being in touch with each other that when the connection fails — which is happening less and less these days, isn’t it — we transform into screenwriters and unleash our imagination and, unfortunately, paranoia.
So, it’s not all bad and it’s not all good, and it’s up to us to decide which it is for us, personally. Some can’t imagine life without a connected gadget, others find them annoying and wish they would cease to be, and here’s the greatest thing about cell phones and the like — they are just one button click away from ceasing to be, then coming back to life when you need them.