Several years ago, Louis CK, the comedian, was on Conan O’Brien’s show and talked about how everything is amazing and nobody’s happy. It’s worth watching and can be found here.
Go ahead and watch it…I’ll wait. While I know that it is about entitlement, I wanted to look at it in the context of how technology impacts us both positively and negatively.
I was reminded of this yesterday while flying back from Dallas. It was one of those trips where things just didn’t go right most of the time, but I have learned over the course of time that since I can’t control it, I can either relax and enjoy the time or I can get stressed and be miserable. So, I got a chance to do one of my favorite things, people watch. First off, I had to change my flights at the last minute to fly to Orlando for the day to prepare my boss for a set of meetings he and I would be at the following day with his boss. I showed up to take the first flight out only to have the flight delayed over an hour due to a maintenance issue found during de-icing the plane. Apparently, there was something wrong on the underside of the wing and we needed both wings to make the flight, so we had to wait while they swapped our plane with another one. We landed in Orlando, had our meetings and I headed back to the airport to get one of the last flights into Dallas. I didn’t realize my direct flight was not non-stop, so I ended up flying from Orlando to Kansas City to Dallas. I finally landed at 10:30pm in Dallas only to discover my luggage decided it wanted to spend the night in Orlando. Normally, this wouldn’t be a major problem, but my meetings the next morning started at 7am and my bag wouldn’t arrive until 8:30, so I needed to find appropriate attire at about 11pm in Grand Prairie, TX. Fortunately, there was a 24-hour Walmart about a mile from my hotel and I was able to pick up sufficient enough clothing to get me through the next day. The meetings went well, and I headed home yesterday. En route, at 35,000 feet I found myself smiling because I was able to both write and upload yesterday’s post. That action combined with the opportunity I had to observe people reacting in various ways to air travel idiosyncrasies reminded of the video above.
Being so close to technology I see a lot of really cool advances and I get to see how they can benefit our society. However, for every advance, there is an impact known as the “law of unintended consequences”. For example, when it first came out T9 texting made it possible to quickly send text messages to cellular phones and ended up creating a unique shorthand that we still see in partial use today, like ‘lol’, 🙂 and others. The law of unintended consequences, however, came into play and now we are seeing indications of a causal relationship between text messaging and writing skills. Similarly, as we have seen greater reliance on GPS, etc., we have seen a decline in the ability to use maps for navigation, etc. Social networks became both a forum for reconnecting with friends and at the same time a platform for bullying others. As much as we embrace and seek out new advances, we tend to forget that there is always a flip side to the coin.
I am not advocating running from technology nor trying to say that we should regulate use of new technology. Rather I am advising that we recognize and embrace the advantages of the technology advances we have, but also realize that we have an obligation to use technology responsibly. That means not checking that text that rang in while you were driving. It means not checking your messages when you are interacting with a live human being. It means not posting things that you wouldn’t say to the face of the person you are posting to. It means managing the technology rather than having it manage you. Most of all, it means keeping perspective. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that phones were hooked to the wall, and instead of Instagram, we had to take a Polaroid picture of our food, wave it around a minute and then walk around town showing it to our friends…okay, it’s possible we didn’t do that…
So, the next time you are riding in a car, streaming a movie while texting your friends, enjoy it, but when it is time to sit down with friends, give the tech a rest (unless there is a question you need Google for)!
Enjoy the Super Bowl weekend!