We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug
Agree or disagree?
For our very last debate in this spring session, I feel as though I may (finally) be taking a side. Not without some nuance, of course.
The agree side began by sharing studies showing that tech is actually making us more lonely than in the past. The friendships we are creating are not real; they are actually an illusion, based on what we are deciding to share. We have less vulnerability and intimacy because of our online constructions. Not only that, but we aren’t enjoying moments anymore; we are too focused on technology. This is something that is still being addressed in the news, with the recent story of Adele calling out a fan at her own concert for being too focused on their phone. Finally, this team argued that we are so dependent on technology and data that we aren’t actually developing skills we require to survive in the world without technology.
This is what really hit home with me, and the argument that swayed me to take a legitimate stance with the agree side.
As I shared in the chat during the debate, a couple weeks ago, Sasktel had a problem with their Internet. The entire web was down for what seemed like forever – although in the end I believe it was only a couple of hours. My students and I were working on our final project for the citizenship unit we had been doing for a couple of months. They were writing a magazine, and they were in the final stages of the correction process using BonPatron and Google Drive. All of their work was on the computer and on Google Drive. The assignment description was on Google Classroom, and I, too, had started a google document detailing my weekly meetings with the kids to keep them on task. When the Internet was down, we could not access any of this. Kids couldn’t even log onto the chromebooks, as this, too, required internet access.
So, of course, I was scrambling during recess to find something else to do for the 75 minute Science class that wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. I knew I wanted to do a Scientific Reading exercise with them later on in the year, and so I went to my computer to print off the exercises for the students. But my computer wouldn’t send anything to the printers, as it was all connected with the Internet. Okay, fine. So I grabbed one of my already printed off copies (on colour paper… not the ideal format for photocopying), and brought it to the photocopier myself. Another roadblock: I couldn’t even log in to the photocopiers, because all of that required Internet. Other solutions, including creating a WiFi hotspot, were also ruled out because I, too, am a Sasktel client.
Needless to say, it was a gong show.
That is when I really started to realize how plugged in we are as a society, and how personally dependent I am on technology. I have never found myself to be obsessed with technology. I won’t go back for my phone when I forget it at home; I rarely use my social media accounts; and rarely pull out my phone when out with friends, something Chalyn addressed in her blog. Just like Janelle, I too have often felt that the constant use of technology can lead to missing out on interactions, on special moments, or in living in the moment. Yet – even with what I perceived to be a lack of dependency on my part- I truly felt an absolute need for technology when it was no longer available. This is when I realized that I need to unplug. I need to become less dependent on technology. It was after this no-internet incident at work (and this subsequent perfectly timed debate) that I came to the realization that I need to unplug in my personal life as well. I may not use technology as the ‘cool kids’ do; but how many times have I depended on Google Maps on my phone to help my directionally-challenged self find where I need to go? How often have I used online dictionaries instead of those on my shelf? How often have I simply googled an answer before thinking it through and discovering it on my own? And how many times have I turned on the TV or Netflix to play in the background while I do a multitude of other things, just to avoid the silence (thanks to Erin for helping me realize this through her post)? Too many times to count.
Now, I am not saying that tech is necessarily the problem here. Just like Tayler and Angela posted in their blogs, I am the one who needs to make better choices. I am letting technology use me, instead of learning how to use it well, which is key to our dependency problem. What worries me is how I have become so used to technology always being around; almost forgetting what it’s like to be without this technology, and how to cope when it is gone. This is one of the main reasons why I believe I have become too dependent on technology, and what I really need to do is unplug; or at least get used to the idea of unplugging in case it is forced upon me in any given situation. I know it isn’t realistic for us to actually unplug 100%, and technology won’t necessarily stop us from acting the way we do or experiencing our lives the way we do. Amy further brings up the important question of what technology is; nowadays it may be Iphones, Ipads, and computers, whereas before it was pencils and lights. Although convincing, these arguments still don’t change how I felt when the Internet was down for those couple of hours. It is that feeling that remains at the heart of this post, and of the absolute necessity for me to quit being so dependent on technology.
Perhaps others can realize this, too, before they are put in a situation where they are forced to realize it. Because as a whole, our society is incredibly plugged in to their devices, by their choice or simply because of shifts in societal norms. Either way, I don’t think it is a negative thing to unplug at least a little bit, as a society as a whole. Perhaps not entirely, but at least somewhat, to not be as dependent on it as we are now.
There are, of course, plenty of other arguments supporting my decision, including the short video below. Check them out, and make your decision about dependency on technology.
So, in the end, I know I need to unplug. What about you?