Books, writing, reading and words. I love them; do you?

Technophobe, Technophile, or Technosceptic?

Connective tech

Connective tech

How do you see today’s technology? As a barrier to your progress, a brilliant tool to be manipulated at will, or simply another fashion to be treated with scorn?

Take email with its multiple platforms and utter ubiquity. Can’t escape it, can you? And now it’s embedded into the world of mobile phones, it’s probable your boss can and will make contact with you literally wherever you go. There’s no escape. No let up. What was designed as a rapid way of written communication may have become a form of slow and relentless torture for many. Of course, used judicially, it’s still a great way of keeping in contact.

But.

For the technologically challenged, sometimes the simplest way of sending a message online can seem daunting. They struggle with the concept of attachments, fall into the trap of sending emails to multiple addresses at the same time, unaware they’re feeding all those email contacts to spam and malware merchants who will devour them and then spread their vile poison to every one of them.

Then there are the promoters. They’ve recognised the facility of this messaging system to spread their word with ease. Is this spam, or enterprise? That, of course, depends upon your viewpoint. Its counterpart from the snailmail world continues to fall in cataracts through our letterboxes, of course: we all get junk mail, which we mostly recycle or toss in the bin to further waste scarce resources.

But it’s the employer who sees the email as a way of controlling his staff who does most damage. He uses email to have you constantly at his beck and call. You feel obliged to respond, regardless of the hour, place, or event that’s supposed to be for your leisure. Those emails lurk there, demanding a response, eating great lumps out of your personal time. And, if you’re smart or brave enough to devise a system that prevents you being contacted out of office hours, you know you’ll be unjustly labelled a slouch, a worker with no care for his job, and your prospects of promotion will be seriously damaged. Email now means your employer owns you, just like the plantation master of old owned his slaves.

A brilliant piece of technological advance has been subverted as a control device by unscrupulous employers. Shame on you if you’re one such!

Your mobile phone, a portable device intended to help you communicate in otherwise isolated places, could be seen as the ideal tool for help in an emergency. That’s certainly why I bought one. And it’s been of use when the car broke down in the middle of nowhere, bringing the roadside mechanic to send me on my way. Wonderful!

But it’s now a tool for endless chatter, often accompanied by pictures, a lot of which shouldn’t be made public. I wonder how many of the billions of text messages that fly around the globe actually mean anything to anyone other than the sender. There’s a brilliant old saying, ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’, for which a modern equivalent might be, ‘Fashion-conscious mobile users send the most crap’.

The current crop of smart phones carry cameras capable of sophisticated photography and video. The result? Millions attending events spend their time recording the live action rather than enjoying what’s happening in front of them. They then, presumably, go home and watch the ‘live’ show on a tiny screen, when they could have been concentrating on their heroes in the flesh instead. Baffles me, but then I’m ancient.

The current fashion for ‘selfies’ is now an epidemic, filling the void with self-portraits that are shared, spoofed, and made fun of for the whole world. People apparently actually carry around their phones attached to long sticks that allow them to take pictures of themselves with ancient monuments in the background. I assume they show these to real, live friends, and social network ‘friends’ on their return from their holidays and trips. I wonder how many of them discover anything at all about the backgrounds they use for this self-glorification.

As a child, in the days when even a landline telephone was unusual in most households, if I wanted to see a friend, or girlfriend, out of school, I had to make plans, arrange a time and place to meet. It meant we were all equipped with a mechanism to plan our social lives, or we went without. This ability to make arrangements ahead of an event later spilt over into our working lives and we adapted our behaviour so that a fall of snow didn’t result in a call to work to explain we’d be late: we knew the snow was likely, so we rose earlier and arrived at work on time. Planning. It seems no longer to happen for most people: easier to send a text and make a spontaneous suggestion our friends will feel socially obliged to accept, regardless of other intentions.

There are, apparently, people who never turn off their mobile phone, who keep them on in the bedroom. The intrusion: if they’re making love, do they interrupt in order to answer that ubiquitous demand for their attention?

And that’s another aspect of constant contact: I see people everywhere using their phones, or their tablets, in public. Sitting on sofas ostensibly watching the TV, having a meal with friends, walking down the street with colleagues, but in reality sending and receiving instant messages and therefore not giving their full attention to the matter at hand or to the people with whom they’re supposedly chatting. I call that rude, frankly.

I could, of course, rant for hours on this topic. It concerns me that the tools we’ve developed to make life easier have, in fact, been subverted into a means of distraction, trivialisation and, most importantly, waste and control of our precious time and attention.

As a writer, I sometimes partake in discussions with connections. People I rarely meet in the flesh. I have large numbers of such social connections and make an effort to engage with as many as possible. It’s impossible to do so in any deeply meaningful way, of course. Oh, we converse on topics both wide-ranging and of mutual interest, and that’s fine, as far as it goes. But how much writing does this writer do when constantly called upon to respond to the remarks and comments of others? Far less than he should or could. All those conversations on LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter et al, demand time and concentration.

So.

I’m taking a break from the online experience. I’m daring to be absent, with or without leave, for a fortnight. I’m going to cease to partake in this world of endless chatter for two complete weeks. Yes; two whole weeks! I want to see what effect that has on my mind, my spirit, my general feeling of wellbeing and serenity.

From the morning of 27th June until the morning of 13th July I’ll be absent from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, contact via landline or mobile (I’ll have the mobile available but turned on only when I decide), and my blog. There’ll be a little activity generated by automated and scheduled posts, etc. But I won’t be ‘there’ to respond, I’m afraid. I’m going to have a holiday where contact is only possible in person; face to face. I’ll let you all know how I get on and provide some feedback after 13th, when I’ll no doubt have to spend a full day catching up on accumulated messages of various sorts!

Comments on this post will be replied to either tomorrow or when I return from holiday and come back online.

Dare you do something similar, or are you incurably addicted to the online experience? I’d love to know.

15 Responses to “Technophobe, Technophile, or Technosceptic?”

  1. AnnMarie Roselli-Kissack

    Stuart,
    I was stopping by here to tell you that I’m taking some time off as well. I need to refocus on my art and writing! Great minds think alike 😉

    You be well. Enjoy your time and summer.

    And I absolutely agree with this spectacular post!

    annmarie:)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Still here until the weekend, AnnMarie. You enjoy your break for refreshing your spirit and reconnecting with the muse.

      Like

      Reply
  2. noelleg44

    My break comes in early August when I am REALLY on vacation and not just doing more work. You are entitled, and I know from personal experience you will return energized! Enjoy it!
    As for the- phile,- phobe, and -sceptic (a new one on me), your title brought back a vivid memory of my 11th grade English teacher having a mock argument in front of the class with the 10th grade English teacher. They argued whether they were bibliophiles or a bibiophobes. Is there such a thing as a bibliosceptic? She was a wonderful teacher, and I became a grammar nerd as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Confession time: I took a leaf from the folio of the Bard and made up my own word for want of a suitable alternative. ‘Technosceptic’ seemed appropriate, Noelle. Who knows, in a few years maybe the OED will adopt it as a new word, eh?
      I shall also be on holiday, but in the past I’ve carried my technical connections with me. This time, I’m intending to leave them behind.
      A bibliosceptic?I’ve come across a few – those individuals who tell you with a strange sense of pride that they’ve never read a book. Always seems perverse to me for a person to revel in ignorance, but they do exist.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Linda Acaster

    LOL! We’re doing the same, for not quite as long – we will be onboard a ship, with spectacular scenery and face to face chat at every turn, but the internet, and often the mobile phone, with no signal. I shall be back at my desk on 5th July, doubtless to a mountain of emails. But won’t it be interesting to see how long it is before we relax into a physical-only daily routine, and much worse, how long it is before we are back in digital harness?

    Enjoy your holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Enjoy your cruise, Linda. The one piece of tech I will be using is my digital camera, of course. So, lots of records of our trip.
      On our return, I’m intending to go back to my habits of a year or so; writing first, everything else only if there’s any time for it. Moving house has seriously interrupted my creative output!

      Like

      Reply
  4. mickjcanning

    Ah, now I understand your reply to my email, Stuart. I could have written a lot of this myself. Unless I’m on a journey, or am expecting an urgent call, I leave my mobile at home, now, having become thoroughly fed up with being ‘available’ all the time. And, thanks to the wonders of voice mail, I rarely answer said phone if it rings, knowing that if it’s actually important, the caller can leave a message. Very liberating! And i think you know my feelings on Twatter and effbook…

    I won’t expect an answer to this for a couple of weeks, by the way! Enjoy the break!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: