Wasn't technology supposed to make life easier?
Some things are more convenient and some problems are solved through technological advances, but it doesn't take more than a casual observation to recognize how technology has negatively impacted society.
People seem to be busier than ever, and stress levels seem to be higher than ever. All these newfangled devices were supposed to help us better manage our time by making mundane tasks more efficient and complex tasks easier.
This might seem like a random topic, but lately there's been added incentive for me to reflect on how technology is impacting my life and our society.
As a journalist, I'm faced with both the threat and opportunity of technology every day. The Internet has expanded journalism exponentially, but at the risk of reductions to print infrastructure, and consequently the workforce (that I'm proud to be a part of).
Audio and video can be recorded and uploaded from mobile phones now. Social media has created unbelievable opportunities for providing creative breaking news content that engages directly with readers. The opportunities are endless - just like a journalist's workday in the new 24/7 news cycle.
And journalism isn't the only industry impacted so heavily by technology. Take for example, the postal service. Of course it's dangerous for me to opine about a story I've been covering from a neutral news perspective, but it's pretty obvious what the Internet has done to "snail mail." It's refreshing to receive a hand-written letter in the mail, but if I must be blunt, it feels a little "old-school" now, doesn't it?
Even a day or two seems like forever to wait for that DVD in the red envelope - something Netflix, or Quickster or whatever they're called is trying to move on from in favor of streaming video that can be accessed with the click of a mouse or a tap on a touchscreen.
In fact, I would say just about every industry has to directly engage with technology, at a frantically faster pace, in order to stay relevant.
Don't get me wrong - I love technology. My cell phone is always within arm's reach. On Sunday afternoon, when I'm not napping, I'll often watch an NFL game on TV, watch Redzone channel on my phone and follow fantasy football stats online. I have my issues - just ask my wife - but I'm not a technological determinist either.
Without getting overly philosophical, I believe we can control our use of technology and consequently its effect on us. Engaging with technology may be almost essential, but for our mental sanity, disengaging every now and then may be just as important.
I'll be heading to Mackinac Island during the middle of next week with my wife and a couple friends, and I can't wait to take the opportunity to distance myself from technology for just a couple days. The more I think about it, the more I think I should take such a technology hiatus more often.
I've been trying to read more books lately (the paper kind), turn off my cell phone from time to time and replace some screen time with face time.
Technology has a powerful impact, no doubt, but it's been a freeing thought to think I control the technology in my life - it does not control me. Now that makes life a little easier.
Stephen can be reached at sanderson@ mininggazette.com.