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Disclaimer: I am not anti-technology in the slightest; the mere act of writing and posting on Vocal precludes me from that position already.
What I am fearful of are the agendas and perceptions behind a lot of the technology we see developed today. There was nothing seemingly wrong with Facebook, until the public started delving into the rabbit hole of, "What exactly do you do with all of our data, Mr. Zuckerberg?"
The tools that have been developed over the last few decades are amazingly useful and downright miraculous in many ways. The very phenomenon of the internet is allowing for an increase in independent journalism, entrepreneurial pursuits, and a more connected humanity.
As always, the issue is not generally with the vast majority of people but rather with small groups of elite business people, politicians and so on that may have their own agendas behind varying technology companies, and it behooves us as consumers to be aware of what we are buying, and the fact that we ourselves may be unwittingly turned into products.
This brings me to the increasing phenomenon of DNA testing to discover one's family of origin. I have heard lawyers urge people to read the terms and services of these programs very carefully; some suggest that a person may be signing the rights away to their own genetics to the company itself as well as to third parties. (Sound familiar)?
Is it worth knowing if I might be related to someone famous from the past at the cost of potentially giving up the right to my own genetic information?
Here's another fun transhumanistic tidbit from last year regarding micro-chipping a company's employees. Again, we have to look for contractual agreements that we don't see rather than just getting caught up in the benefits of being able to pay for snacks more easily or being able to open doors like a Jedi, (or maybe a Sith Lord.)
The basic point is that we have to take our due diligence and inform ourselves and each other about these things, preferably BEFORE jumping right into them with both feet. If there is even a remote possibility that I may be agreeing to something I don't fully understand, I would do well to consult a trusted legal professional before I sign or click, 'agree' to something.
The process of agreeing to something that we are not consciously aware of will continue to be an issue with new technologies. More important than the individual gadgets or services is the intent of the people behind them. How much does company X disclose to its users and the general public? More importantly, how much is kept secret until some scandal forces the information to come out?
If you have ever seen a six-year-old glued to a phone or a tablet it must mean that you weren't caught up on your own device and could notice how alluring and addicting screens are, especially for young people.
As a parent, how easy is it to simply give your kids some virtual babysitters in the name of some peace and quiet? The answer is, it is dangerously easy to do so. This is a classic example of, "short term gain, long term pain," when it comes to raising healthy kids.
The technology seems to initially be very soothing, stimulating, entertaining, and possibly even educational. (All of the above if you read my articles). The real issue becomes apparent when it is time to talk to real people, in real life, who have real feelings.
Anyone who has ever (tried) to interact with a tween or teen who is habitually strung-out on screens may wonder what has happened to humanity. The answer is, AI has started to happen to humanity and we have to be increasingly aware of our artificial relationships as well as our real ones.
The easiest way to find a healthy balance is to simply meditate on what we want to do with our lives and ask what role technology plays in our own life purpose. For example, writing and making videos that expand consciousness and unlock human potential can be facilitated by technology.
It is the aimless and distracted use of screens that is problematic; we scroll and click from one thing to the next, never really finding anything.
What I tend to do these days is bring a lot more awareness to what I do online. Before I log onto my computer, I make a list of the things I need to do. (Check email, finish writing and submitting this article, and watch a friend's YouTube video).
Once I am done I give myself a break and do something in the real world. If I need to do something later I can always go back on, but I can never get the time back that I have spent lost in the far corners of the interwebs.
As a person over 30, I had the luxury of not growing up as ensconced in technology. This gave me a bit of space to observe how quickly this 'techno-renaissance' has begun to take hold. (Kids today are issued the newest smartphone shortly after birth).
I've also been blessed to have had many enriching experiences deep in nature with nary a screen to be found for weeks at a time. The reality is that technology is not bad, but we need to know its place in the grand scheme of our lives.
The fact is that technology is all derived from nature in one way or another but can never actually replace Mother Nature's brilliance.
As we stare into the abyss of 0's and 1's the sun shines, the rain falls, dogs bark, and children play. The world is always calling us to come and participate in life. Let us embrace our real lives while we have the chance. Nobody on their deathbed wishes they spent more time playing Angry Birds.
If you or someone you know is having a problem limiting your use of technology, feel free to contact me anytime. I have had the honor and privilege of helping myself and many clients find more balance in life by putting down the devices and getting back into reality.