We live in a time now where computers are literally everywhere. While seemingly unbelievable, this was not always the case. When I was growing up, there was a singular computer in the house that everybody had to share. One huge machine, bigger than a vacuum cleaner, probably some funky speakers, and required specific furniture to house. Laptops had not been born yet, so everyone had to take turns using the large desktop computer either in an office or living room. Before the internet, computers were my entertainment system, for Solitaire, pinball or SimCity. Things were simple.
There is a screen constantly in your face now. If you aren’t on your phone as soon as you get up, you are a better person than I. My phone is a combination of so many functions, and yet still wildly underutilized. By the time I put my phone in my pocket after the first round of app inspections, it’s off to my laptop to get some real work done.
Constantly switching over, from work to play, I’m always staring at a screen of some sort. My phone breaks down how many hours I’ve spent a day, however I completely ignore the information. I don’t want to know how strong my dependence is. It doesn’t even add up the time I spend on my computer(s), or the TV.
Remember when they said TV rots your brain? What could you possibly call this?
Some of this is necessary, mandatory. My job is dependent on working on my computer; Slack, Outlook, Salesforce, Marketo, libraries of data and they’re all tasks in Asana. There’s nothing I can do about the hours spent getting paid to look at my screen. But it all adds up, building my relationship with technology. My glasses have blue light filters in them to prevent prolonged retinal damage so I can fill out a work week, then watch TV while browsing my phone.
That’s the relationship I have with my computer. It’s inherently bad for you, it’s what helps pay the bills, it keeps me entertained with the things that interest me, it’s constantly in my face. And it doesn’t seem like it’s going to taper off anytime soon. Algorithms do a fantastic job.
There’s a perk to nonstop technology, I have to stress. From my childhood in the 90s to today, we are truly living in the future, short of flying cars and space travel. ‘Working remotely’ is such a casually stated situation, people easily forget how almost everyone had to commute somewhere to earn their paycheck. For that I am grateful and willing to take Zoom calls from my living room.
I also have videos of my kids being born. Some of the happiest moments of my life, backed up in the cloud (which needs to be updated, while we’re on the subject). Google Images also has an algorithm that compiles pictures into a montage of your kids growing up, and even puts in some sappy music so you can get all weepy at the end. Seeing both sides of the coin is important for perspective to mean anything.
Before we can get all down on ourselves about spending too much time hopped up on the internet, it’s important to understand that we only get out what we put in. The screens will always be there from now on, but keeping the usage down is just as important as acknowledging that we’re surrounded now. If you’re trying to play Solitaire, maybe break out a deck of actual cards. And maybe I’ll start paying attention to that usage report.