Is It Possible to Balance Our Technology Consumption?
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This week, our discussion turned to something that affects all of us: our reliance on technology. One of our community members suggested the topic, so it’s clearly something that is on our minds and something that we’re dealing with every day.
According to community member Mikole Kaye, we’re approaching a situation like the movie Wall-E where we’re so connected we never even have to leave our chairs. “Think about it,” she says, “Our cars are literally now connected, and some can even drive themselves. With Amazon’s new grocery stores, we won’t need to have the cashier interaction anymore. With Zipcar’s mobile-only interface, renting cars will no longer require people interaction. Heck, there are even virtual K-12 schools now.” From constantly being on our phones to easy connectivity through wearable devices and social media, there’s no arguing that technology is everywhere. But is that good or bad?
Technology isn’t black and white, and no matter what we do, we can’t slow down the reliance on technology — we can only control our own behavior. Technology in the future could be even more of an issue and challenge than it currently is. Community member Cassia Cruz points out that in the future it’s very possible workers will be connected 24/7, but she wonders how that will affect relationships, both positively and negatively. That’s also a concern of community member Abigail Freeman, who says, “My main concern here is technology substituting some of our most basic human needs for wellbeing — interpersonal contact and purpose. This leaves me wondering how we harness tech to free us up to be more human rather than be a slave to tech?” It’s an excellent question and one that doesn’t necessarily have answer.
The world doesn’t fall apart when we turn off technology — it’s all about how we respond to it. Like most things in life, balance is key, and everyone’s situations are different that there isn’t a perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. There are a number of ways we can balance our use of technology and our wellbeing, and it can look different for everyone. Some people find it best to answer emails right away so that they don’t build up, while other people have set times to check their email and social media every day. Community member Jesper Simonsen balances on-line and off-line life by thinking about the value the technology provides. He turns off notifications and has removed his work email from his personal phone. After checking social media just once a day, he has plans to take a month off this summer and focus on things in real life.
And of course, we can feel like we have a grasp on current technology, and then new technology comes rolling in. Community member Jeremy Pepper points out that technology can be turning into an addiction if we don’t set limits or acknowledge the problem, and Marvie Spies agrees, saying that we need to be having more conversations about the boundaries and impulses of technology, especially as people try to balance their personal and professional lives with what is seen and communicated online.
It’s easy to see technology as bad and the root of many of our problems, especially for kids and teens who can be addicted or overly reliant on their gadgets. But there’s also a whole new world of possibilities that comes from technology, and sometimes it can do us good to focus on the positive and how these things can help us and the future generation. Balancing technology and finding ways to successfully implement into our lives will become more of a challenge in the future, but it could just be the price we pay to live in a modern, connected society.
Jacob Morgan is a best-selling author, speaker, and futurist. His new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to his newsletter, visit TheFutureOrganization, or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If…and join the discussion.