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Technology- Your Master or Your Servant?

Are we allowing technology to progress the human condition or are we letting it cripple us?

This image is borrowed from morganmckinley.com, Claire Burge

Technology plays a vital role in our daily lives. We see its impact not only at home but also in education, healthcare, politics and almost every other industry. With technology being such an integral part of our daily lives, we, at times, let it take away our power and dictate our lives.

What astonishes me is that we sometimes credit an object to be a distractor or a cause of unproductivity. If this was the case, the same object would cause distraction to everyone in any situation.

A few years ago, I was sitting at the dinner table having a meal with my grandparents when my younger cousin’s phone rang. He immediately stopped eating, quickly washed his hands, and darted to grab his phone. My grandfather’s reaction of “Phones are such a distraction to kids today,” ignited a conversation that night. I asked him, “I’ve had my mobile phone go off so many times in the past, but I still continue to sit and have my dinner. How can you say phones are distractions? Isn’t it an individual’s problem rather than the phone itself?”

Our conversation went all night long but the point here to be made is that technology itself is not an impediment in our lives but it’s how we choose to use them that can cause distractions in our lives. With the advent of technology, we can instantaneously communicate with the entire world. What would have taken days to communicate a simple message across sea now takes less than a second. This is advantageous not only in family relationships but also beneficial for businesses in increasing productivity. For example, a meaningful message on YouTube or Twitter can instantly reach millions around the world and create an impact. Our ability to connect with each other is on a different level now with the aid of technology.

An area where technology is playing a crucial role is in healthcare. Extensive research is being conducted on increasing the longevity of life. For example, pacemakers use electric impulses to regulate the heartbeat. Someone who has a particular heart ailment would use a pacemaker to ensure missing heartbeats are being compensated for and the heart continues to steadily pump blood to the rest of the body. Another example is a glucometer. This device measures glucose levels in the body allowing doctors to prescribe a diet so that the patients maintain a healthy glucose level at all times. While in both these examples, the patient’s life is being extended, is the quality of their life improving or is it actually diminishing? In this case, is technology bettering our lives or actually crippling us to the point where we are dependent on a device to keep us alive?

Personally, in my life, one device really helps me be more productive both physically and mentally during the day. This is my mobile phone. Mobile applications such as Google Keep and Google Calendar help me stay organized with my schedule during the day. In the mornings, I like to see what the day has in store for me by skimming over my calendar. This way I am prepared for all my meetings. During my lunch hour, I use Headspace for meditation. This app helps me recharge and clear my mind so I can tackle what’s thrown at me for the rest of the day. When I commute, I use YouTube to listen to podcasts and motivational videos. I like to learn what young entrepreneurs are doing around the world to obtain highest levels of success. I use this as an inspiration for the day to know that I am not alone on this journey. Last but not the least, I use the Blue Light Filter app at night to protect my brain from any conflicts. Even though I like to stay away from my phone 30-45 minutes before I sleep, viewing my phone screen, through a blue light, hours before I sleep prepares my brain for rest. Having said this, it’s not that I depend on these apps but using them in my daily routine enhances my productivity and keeps me organized and motivated throughout the day.

Could I live without a phone? Of course, I can!

In fact, when I took a solo trip to Mexico last month, my phone was stolen on the first day I landed. At first, I was hung up on it. I spent hours trying to retrace my steps in a town where I knew nothing or no one. I ended up not finding my phone and had to either brood over it or choose to move on and enjoy my trip. I chose the latter and something amazing happened. Once I accepted that I was not going to get my phone back, I was completely in the moment. Instead of being wrapped up in taking pictures to capture the moment, I was totally in the present. I was able to immerse myself in the culture and any conversations and experiences that I had with people felt so real and alive. After the trip ended, I felt like I remembered each and every aspect of the trip because of my total presence in each situation. I called this a blessing in disguise.

At times, we get so caught up in technology, especially our mobile devices. We strive so hard to capture every moment by Snapchatting or Tweeting about it that we lose the ability to genuinely enjoy what the moment has to offer. I experienced this when I was in Mexico, a new country for me without any phone or contact to the outside world. I then realized how we allow technology to cripple us at times. We conveniently blame our distractions on technology, but I realized that it’s not technology that is the problem, it’s what we make of it! We can either use it to enhance our day-to-day life or we can choose to get distracted and crippled by it. The choice is ultimately ours.

What’s your choice?

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