Technology – a Curse or a Blessing?

A familiar scene in 2017…

When you walk the streets or you are on a train it is very unusual to see people not interacting with their electronic devices. It is not uncommon these days that as you walk or sit on the bus or on the train, at least half of the people are on their mobile phone and most of them are not just listening to music on their devices but they are doing 367 other things! It is a rare sight to be in a public place and to see people doing such antiquated thing like reading a book. I’m speaking about that thing made of paper, with pages that you open and it has a distinctive smell to it as you hold it in your hand and turn the pages.

 

The Blessing

There are so many aspects of technology that have transformed our lives in the last hundred years – such as vehicles for transportation, tractors for agriculture, the telephone and faxes for communication, sophisticated medical devices that enable us to live longer and so on.

More notable in the last couple of decades is the explosion of information technology – meaning people in the world are much more closely connected and information is at your fingertips. At the very centre of the most modern technological development is the Internet and smart phones. The way we connect with each other, access and process information and run our lives in a manner that saves us an enormous amount of time is quite astonishing.

The Curse

There are other aspects of information technology in particular, which can be considered a mixture of blessing and curse at the same time or just a curse as it is a complete and utter waste of time. The real benefits of social media – such as Facebook and so on is debatable among people, but in my own opinion, the negative aspects or at least the way people use it is not what I consider to be life-enhancing.

My iPhone blips about 11 time every day and in those 11 times, it is usually the alarm on it; reminding me of something I’ve got to do or to stop doing and move on to the next thing. On the whole, constant e-mailing and text messaging is an utter waste of time, a productivity killer in the vast majority of cases. People do not tend to differentiate between effectiveness and efficiency. Do you really have to reply to that e-mail now? Actually, do you have to check that e-mail now, or is it better to schedule a time of your day to check and reply to all messages?  There are, of course emergencies, but I can assure you that emergency is overstated and too many things are wrongly classified as emergency. People consider those who reply to messages very quickly to be very efficient, there is a question mark about how effective they are in what they do and more importantly how productive.

When you go into a public place these days, people who are meant to be at the reception or serving customers are often on their smart phone, checking their Facebook update – an utterly horrific sight for me to see.

In my next blog post, which is the second in a series of four, I will discuss how technology is being abused in schools, and how this can affect students learning experience.

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