Technology is indeed a disrupter. It has overtaken our lives. The bondage to our mobiles has turned us into addicts; not much different from substance addicts, says Bloomberg View journalist, Leonid Bershidsky in his article, “I’m beating my smart phone addiction”.
We do not look at each other in the lifts, we walk looking down the street engrossed with our phones. At social gatherings, we are preoccupied with the virtual people more than the people who are physically present. The regular checking and updating on social media has indeed changed lives. We do not communicate much nowadays in person. Family meals take place with everyone looking at their hand phones. A friend shared a story of a couple sitting opposite each other in a restaurant overseas, each busy communicating with each other through their mobile devices with barely a look. Is that advancement in technology or a loss of human contact?
According to Bershidsky, we tap, click or swipe our smart phones more than 2,500 times a day. I wonder whether there is an app to measure this international phenomenon.
Facebook is now deemed to be for older people as the younger ones have moved on to Instagram or other new and trendy forms of social media. It is interesting to see how men have become more willing to share about their lives on Facebook. Sometimes, I think they live their entire lives on Facebook. Routine life incidents are also shared on Facebook.
Gatherings are no more the same. Taking of photographs on smart phones is a common occurrence. Before you even each home, the photos are already posted on social media. At conferences, we multi-task, often looking at our smart phones and iPads more than at the speakers.
I joke to the Wife that I rank after her work iPad, hand phone and social media. Early this year, I decided to stop accessing Facebook as part of an effort to reduce the noise in my life. It was an easy detachment. I did not miss any significant updates in my friends’ lives. I found peace. It is another story that I eventually went back to it, more as an unavoidable habit. I stopped though at posting or sharing on Facebook except for photographs of travels and about this column. It was more to serve as a diary for me than sharing every aspect of my life with my friends.
It feels like living in Jurassic Park - we are surrounded by these overwhelming modern dinosaurs and we are willingly consumed by them.
Providing hand phone details to clients is a norm rather than an exception these days. It has become difficult keeping up with the checking of SMSes, WhatsApp, e-mails, missed calls on the mobile and on the telephone in the office on a work day. In fact I had to work out a schedule just to do these tasks.
Moderation is key. Limit the number of times we reach for our smart phone. Set a limit to how often you access Facebook and other social media, just like how parents control the usage of technology by their children. Set boundaries for checking of e-mails to maintain the fine line between your professional and private life.
I am setting a new challenge for myself. To keep to a social media schedule. To focus on people and the happenings around me. To stop using my smart phone whilst walking down the street and at all gatherings. To be present in real life and real time. To read hard copies of books and newspapers. There will be less risk of being a victim of fake news.
We control technology and not vice versa. At the end, the humans won in the Jurassic Park movies. So can we.
► Rajan Chettiar
Rajan Chettiar LLC