Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you Technology!

I read an article in the Washington Post a few days ago which offered a balm to those struggling under the effects of excessive technology. This particular article suggested that we spend an inexorable amount of time getting mobbed by the omnipresence of technology whether it be the simple act of making a phone call/checking email or the more involved act of browsing the internet aimlessly for hours or texting in our sleep.
The writer offered a technology detox which involved giving your social networking sites' password to a friend to change it (to reduce the temptation of logging in), turning off phones,  and taking a weekend to do things that did not need to be plugged in or require batteries. I suppose this would mean doing something as seemingly primitive as *gasp* picking up and actually reading a book as opposed to picking it up to make room for ones' laptop, or planting actual flowers in your real yard as opposed to working your green thumb in a virtual garden. One might even consider actually going to a friend's home (assuming one actually knows where the friend lives outside of facebook), instead of giving them a loving virtual poke. You get the idea.
However, the point of this article is not to educate you on how your electronics are eating alive your non-virtual life, but to marinate on this thought- given the option to rid ourselves of the constant lure of technology, how many of us would be willing to take the plunge? How many of us would consciously make the decision to set aside our androids, our blackberries, our facebooks, our tweets, and other such personified made-up words? How many of us would actually abide by that decision? Is it not ironic that somewhere, someone used a nonsensical word to christen new technology and we personified that word and gave it a whole life of its own such that as time lapsed, it started affecting our very existence!
Digression aside, back to the meat of the matter, have we enshrined technology to a level where we would feel handicapped were it to be removed? It is no secret that technology has seeped into our veins and makes our heart throb with every flashing red light on our phones or notification message on facebook. But I wonder to what level technology has become a memory-keeper of sorts for us. It is everywhere, and consequently, so are our memories. No longer can distances make the heart grow distant, no longer can time heal all wounds because technology has surpassed real time and given us a vault of memories, both good and bad, that live on forever in our virtual lives.
How then, does one get over a broken heart? or get over a sad memory? or rebuild oneself after a shattered friendship? How does one escape demons in the past when those demons float around like Dementors in gadgets, ready to suck the life and happiness out of us. The phenotype of these Dementors may vary-a picture/video on a phone, a comment on the facebook wall, an email from years ago, a facebook friendship with a friend that no longer is, but the effect is always the same- a quick tumble back into the past that we tried so hard to leave behind us.
One would imagine that getting out such memories must have been easier before the dawn of technology on our lives. You would simply stop associating with a person who brought you sorrow, or throw away letters enveloped in black clouds, or detour your footsteps away from a site of crushed dreams but it is impossible to get rid of their virtual equivalents. Moreover, even if these are quarantined away into a dark, dusty corner of our inboxes,  the temptation to visit them every now and then becomes insurmountable, especially when we know no one is watching.
It makes me shudder to think of what this does to us. Thanks to the omnipotent technology, we walk around with ALL the heavy emotional baggage of our pasts. Atlas, the Greek God who supposedly carried/carries the world on his shoulders, did so only because he was punished by Athens for disobeying him. Yet, we all willingly carry the burden of our past with us at all times by keeping it just a mere click, tap, or sweep away. No wonder I see such tired people all around me, they aren't as weighed down by their physical ordeals in the world as they are by their emotional ones...willingly nonetheless! Thank you technology, for taking our lives and making them your own. May you befriend and un-friend a thousand people and fall in and out of love with a thousand more, all of whom continue to remain your (over-active) facebook friends. 

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