These Two Stories Make Me Worried We Will Become Slaves To Technology…

I always laughed off any fears of becoming a slave to technology, but I received two story releases that changed all of that and got me seriously concerned about our future relationship with gadgets.

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It’s easy to empathise with press desperation - news has always been an attention-based industry, which has been irreparably damaged by the advent of the internet. I won’t say that journalism is dead, but can fully see it’s changed a lot. In some situations, such as the thirst for clicks by pushing over-dramatic clickbait headlines and pushing an overly negative narrative, these changes have not been for good. 

This desperation has leaked into humanity’s use of technology, as to some certain outlets its a life-ruining tool with addictive tendencies much alike strong narcotics (hi, Daily Mail). And for that, I’ve always taken stories saying we will be come slaves to technology with a gigantic pinch of salt.

However, as I opened up my emails, this skepticism was about to change…

Whether it was serendipitous or a deliberate talking point of multiple PR agencies, I received two separate news stories that really stoked those fears of tech.

Story 1

This was a short-but-effective story sent on behalf of Carphone Warehouse, which made the rather grave study conclusion that 80% of UK adults need the internet to function.

83% of these subjects studied turn to the internet for help on everyday personal and professional tasks. And the items that we’re receiving on help basically signal a death note for real interpersonal communication moments, such as:

  • Approaching your crush (73% prefer to do this online)
  • Researching before meetings (40% admit they search on Google while talking to work colleagues, to blag their way through conversations)

Other examples were raised also, with nearly half of respondents looking online for food inspiration and 56% of women searching for health advice. But my mind focused on these top issues of removing important social experiences from human behaviour. 

At first I scoffed at the idea, thinking I’d never be that person. However, it hit me… I already am that person - searching for a wi-fi connection when at a holiday resort, using my phone all the way up to the time I sleep and grabbing it off the bedside table immediately in the morning.

Strange to feel a news release have more of an impact on you than you wished for. Certainly an astonishing experience that I’m sure you’ll all feel too if you take a second to think just how much you use your phone.

Then the release touched on famous movies for some reason, which did not distract me from the overall nervousness surrounding how hard I related to being unable to function without an internet connection.

Story 2

Again, another short story and one that sounds right up the fear-baiting press’ street. In another study, this time specifically with millennials, conducted by Tappable, 1 in 10 of them would rather sacrifice a finger than give up their smartphones…

I know this and the numbers below aren’t majority figures, but it’s still a set of eye-opening stats to read.

When asked what else they’d give up, 38% of millennials would give up drinking, 16% would stop travelling and 15% would give up sex.

One female respondent, who wished to remain anonymous said: “My phone is integrated into every part of my life. I couldn’t possibly live without it”.

Oh, and that’s not all… 23% would be willing to give up one of their senses to keep their smartphone - 64% of which would give up the sense of smell.

What can we do?

Tech companies already seem to be on top of this problem with app use tracking, timing and auto-quitting when you are on one for too long. However, these only go so far and come from companies that, much like journalism above, make their money based on the level of attention you pay to the very devices they tell you to put down every once in a while.

If you really want to stop your own enslavement to technology, the answer is easier said than done - just stop.

That FOMO you feel about your Instagram feed? It doesn’t matter. That countdown until you get new tokens in that game that keeps pressuring you into buying more? It doesn’t matter. That list of people who viewed your LinkedIn profile? Kind of creepy to find your ex on there several times, but it doesn’t matter.

What I’m trying to say in far too many words is that lives should be lived with technology - not through it, and I write this fully knowing I am no better at putting said gadgets down.

So maybe there’s no fighting it. Maybe the fact we were pretty much immersed in tech from birth is more of a haunting precursor to becoming slaves to technology.

But I like to think we still have a chance…