Distraction or empowerment. Which is it?
I love technology. I love gadgets. The fact that we can create products and services that enhance our productivity, reduce our cognitive stress and bring a little more delight into our daily lives…well, it makes me happy that I live in the time that I live.
There is a problem though. A lot of these creations are less about empowerment and more about beautiful distraction. It’s hard to tell the difference between the two sometimes. An app on your mobile phone that allows you to do a task in a third of the time you used to, can feel very similar to an app that you constantly check in the wake of doing your real work. Do we really need the latest thing? The latest phone? Watch? Are you usually present in the moment or pining for that little screen?
I think we’ve transformed the merchandising experience in technology to match fashion. Now, when we buy tech, we aren’t just buying what we think the product will do for us in our lives, we buy it to satisfy a need for social status. Or we buy it to elicit a feeling of control over our otherwise chaotic lives. Opening up an apple product’s packaging is like watching the opening credits to a movie you have high anticipation for. It may not pay off, but at least this part feels special. And don’t forget to post that on Instagram.
Is all this tech and digital connection making us more connected? More efficient? More empowered? It’s hard to say. I think there are a few, disciplined people, who are able to apply the benefit of all this innovation without letting it drag them into the A.D.D. gutter. Maybe it’s time for a detox. Perhaps mobile device makers can give users more control over their own device addiction in a way that encourages the best usage, not the most usage.
We shall see.
OK, back to Facebook and cat videos.