Life beyond our devices.

Something that has constantly been on my mind during these first few weeks of class has been the discussions around our use of technology. We have questioned whether or not technology is connecting us or disconnecting us. Does it control us or do we control it? Can we really be in the moment if we are trying to capture the moment on our phone? So many great questions to really make you think. Every time I think about one of these questions I choose one side over the other until I give it a little more thought and find an argument in favour of the other side. I find myself going back and forth without every coming to a decision on which side I actually stand.

I have read some blogs that my classmates have done in which they raise a lot of good questions and provide thoughtful reflections on how technology affects our daily lives. Some of them feel the same way as me in terms of their stance on technology. It seems that we can all see both sides of the argument and can agree with both sides as well. One question that has been discussed in other blogs is whether or not we can be in the moment while we are trying to capture it with our device. Justine had an interesting experience on her honeymoon with selfie sticks and commented on an article that suggested we don’t remember the same amount of details from a situation if we take a picture of it as we would if we just took in the moment without our phone. This reminds me of the idea that if you write something down you will remember it more than if you simply listen to what is being said. I do think that if you put your phone down and really try to be in the moment that you can focus more on capturing it with all five senses. Being able to not only see what’s happening, but also hear the sounds and smell the scents will help you remember a moment more vividly. Ever came across a smell that triggered a memory? I have this experience often with soaps or lotions. If I used a specific scent of body wash on vacation, whenever I use that scent again at home it always takes me back to my vacation. That being said I can always look back at my pictures that I took to be taken back too so am I getting the same results from experiencing the moment or capturing it? Which is better?

14904483423_1f9d505fdePhoto Credit: Nigel Burley via Compfight cc

Genna found some interesting articles in her post that argue we cannot fully be in the moment if we are constantly on our phones. This article encourages us to “Put down the phone.  Be present and be in the moment. Enjoy the conversation of those that are physically with you, without glancing at a screen.” I believe that there is value to this statement but I also agree with Genna who says that taking pictures brings others into the moment as well. It is nice to be able to connect and share with others who may not be able to share in these experiences because they don’t live near us. That is one of the biggest reasons I share pictures and videos of my kids on Facebook. It helps keep my family members who don’t live near up to date with how my family is doing.

Sherry Turkle has her own views on technology and does research to see how technology has affected our ability to connect. In this Ted Talk Sherry argues that technology is making us feel more alone and the connections that we have online are not the same as the ones we have in real life. According to Turkle our devices are changing who we are and how we do things. One view that Turkle has is that technology has changed conversations. This is an idea that she speaks about in her Ted Talk as well as her article: Stop Googling. Let’s talk. Turkle discusses how conversations have become less intimate and engaging because of technology. When conversations get boring we reach for our phone as long as there are other people who are listening to the conversation. I can agree with this to a certain extent because I have been guilty myself of doing this and have also seen others do it. That being said I cannot guarantee that when people reach for their phones it is out of boredom due to lack of conversation…I can only assume. Kirsten has some great thoughts on how conversations have changed and poses a great question about how technology affects introverts and extroverts in terms of communication. As a slight introvert myself I can agree that technology helps me communicate with others whom I may not feel as comfortable with communicating with in real life. I am sure there are other who feel the same way. Especially students who may be intimidated to come to us face to face with a problem or concern. That being said I do think that face to face is an important communication skill to have.

With all of these questions being raised, I decided to see what I could find on this topic of connectivity and technology. I cam across this video…yes it is quite long…and I found that only some parts were very interesting, but it is relevant. 

In an effort to keep this post from getting too long I will highlight some questions and points that I thought were really interesting from the video.

  • Technology can enhance our lives by taking us to places we may have never gone before. For example, we may take a hike on a path we may not have gone on before because we feel secure enough having our phones with us.
  • On the other hand, technology can take away from life as we “get lost” in emails or social media. We may plan on going for a run only to be lost in our phone and next thing we know we have run out of time to go for a run.
  • Is technology ubiquitous because it’s new? Are we at a peak? The panelists feel that we may be at a peak and are currently trying to adapt. It has been hard to adapt when we have had to do it so quickly.
  • Is technology really a problem? They argue that technology becomes a bigger problem when we have digital immigrants and digital natives in the same room. If a group of 12-13 year olds are together and on their phones, no one thinks it is a problem. Introduce a digital immigrant in that setting and suddenly the phones become a problem.
  • Has technology become an obligation as opposed to a luxury? It’s expected that we know how to use social media. If you don’t have a social media account you are almost a social outcast. I thought this was an interesting comment because I know people who aren’t on Facebook and I will talk to them about something from Facebook that they missed out on because they weren’t on Facebook. I have heard people complain that they didn’t know about something because they missed it.
  • Technology has limited face to face interactions and has changed the way we communicate. Communicating through technology is missing one major aspect of communication which is body language. It is very difficult for emotions to be shown and language can be taken out of context with unintended outcomes.
  • We don’t necessarily need to put our phones away, we need to stop being so passive and being more active with our phones.

There were a lot of other points discussed regarding technology in schools/work places and how can we control what students/employees do online? How do we manage our online profiles to makes sure that they are professional and that we aren’t stepping out of line. This video was also shared on the page and I thought it was really interesting. It is similar to the Look Up video. 

I have really been struggling with where I stand on the technology continuum. In my personal life I have really been trying to put my phone down more so that I can actually watch my kids grown up and experience real life with real people. I think that the most important thing is that we are trying to address the problems that we sometimes see with technology. We know that it helps us connect, but we can also see how it makes us feel disconnected. I agree with the panelists who say that we are still trying to adapt. Technology has evolved so quickly and we have been trying to keep up. In trying to keep up with technology I feel like we have left behind other important things like conversation, family and friends. But have we really left them behind or has technology simply changed the way we interact and connect with one another? I am still unsure of how I feel but I am happy that we are all thinking critically about technology and how it affects our daily lives.

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4 thoughts on “Life beyond our devices.

  1. Pingback: Personal Engagement with Media | Jeannine Whitehouse

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  3. Ashley, I too struggle with the balance. I know my child needs more time from me when she says, ‘mom, look at me.’ I think I am being quick and can split my time, She disagrees on both counts and rightly so. My husband had his phone out while we were talking with his parents. It was really odd because there was no real reason to have it out and the three of us agreed that it should be put away. We are talking about a grown man who usually doesn’t behave in this way. Is his need to feel connected changing? We have two tech free days, which really are just the hours between after school and bed. One night my olders was so upset because he was bored and he wanted us to entertain him. I pointed out that yes having family time is important and I love that you want to spend time with us, but you need to also be able to entertain yourself. I reminded him how much he likes basketball, building things, drawing and reading. He has to be okay with his own company and not always reach for a piece of technology. Besides, when he is in university and waiting for a class to begin, he may actually strike up a conversation with a person he finds attractive and be able to converse with them. Imagine that!!!

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