Technology: Blessing or Curse?

Distracted User

Are you in control of your technology, or is your technology in control of you? Most of those reading this article are fortunate to own a mobile phone, and probably also a computer or tablet.

These gadgets are a wonderful way to pass the time. They allow us to keep in contact across vast distances (or across the neighbourhood). They feed us a constant stream of news and information about the latest tragedy or celebrity boob job. They keep us connected and engaged. It is the later of these two adjectives with which I am most concerned: 'engaged'.

There is, however, another kind of engaged. It is the kind of engaged you get when you call certain government departments, hoping to talk to a human, and instead you get a busy signal. There are too many people trying to talk at once. In the same way, we are inundated with information, much of it of questionable relevance or utility.

The technology community has responded by creating 'feeds'. Savvy users can subscribe to these feeds, and only receive information from people or organisations that are publishing content they're interested in hearing. Even Facebook allows us to filter our news to a certain extent.

Our gadgets have enabled us to connect with each other. But are we really connecting in any meaningful way? Or are we really just making animal noises; a like here, a share there. Sometimes we might leave our work and home environment and venture into the world to meet our friends, and if we're lucky, someone new. On the way, we sedate our restless minds with the latest podcast or our favourite music. When we get there, we trash talk often, in part as a release from the steady inundation of 'news' and advertising, and the assault of lights and noises upon our senses.

How often do we hug? How often do we pause during conversation to watch the shenanigans of the floor staff, or gaze upon the birds, pedestrians, trees and water? How often do we savour our drink, or our food?

What is this continuous stream of advertising and fake news really telling our minds? If we make a habit of checking our social media, or email throughout the day, we are only reinforcing a behaviour that keeps us sedated with constant noise.

One of the best things to come from our contact with the eastern wisdom traditions, in my opinion, has been the idea of silence. Our best thoughts, insights and observations come from silence. If our minds are continually preoccupied with noise (be it from outside or within), we simply don't have the space for any kind of clarity on anything. Period.

Try switching off once in a while. Put a curtain over your TV. Leave your phone behind. Read a book. Write some poetry. Draw. Have a drink in the cosy light of your apartment, or that trendy café. Sit and listen to music with your family. Sit with your self for a while, or with the people or environment around you.

Reconnect with your self, with your life and with the world around you.

Give your mind a break. Let some fresh air in!

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