Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Everything is amazing and no one is happy"

As anyone who knows me would confirm, I am not a fan of new hi-tech gadgets and constantly refer to myself as technologically challenged. When I used to dog-sit for a professor, it took me numerous attempts and a final frantic call to a friend to learn how to use all three remotes to turn on the TV and watch movies. I mean, there were 800 channels available and I could not miss an opportunity to watch as many movies as I could while at the house, but to be successful at that, it took more effort than simply pushing the on button. In addition, I only recently bought a phone with free unlimited text-messaging (All those with iPads, iPhones, and other so-called smart items, do not judge!). Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that there is no way two people could have a normal and interesting conversation by exchanging text messages. Texting is certainly helpful for quick reminders and appointment set-up, but for anything more serious than that? Or do we no longer care about significant conversations and are satisfied with surface-level communication? 

An article in the New York Times discusses the effect of unlimited plans on the number of texts sent. The article reports that with the introduction of the unlimited plans, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2, 272 messages per month! The article then proceeds to list all the negative effects such behavior incurs. The issue is not just text messaging, however. In a technologically advanced world, it seems that people of all ages become so obsessed with modern gadgets that they forget they live in a world with real people who have real personalities and with whom one can have a real conversation. The focus of daily lives is now to keep track of new social networks so that one is constantly inundated with highly unimportant information, new phone applications, and new phones that now can do everything but bake bread for you.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology is great and having a super-smart, or even an average intelligence, cell phone certainly helps when stranded in an unfamiliar area for example. But I am afraid we have gone way too far to become so dependent on technology and demand it that it seems as if we cannot survive without it. This is one reason I refuse to buy a GPS to use while driving; I do not want to become so reliant on this gadget that I feel incapacitated without it. 

The dangers of becoming too involved with modern technology and allowing it to control our attitude and mood so that the quality of one’s life depends on the immediate gratification expected from modern conveniences is definitely not a laughing matter. However, one of the best analyses on the relationship between people and the modern technologically advanced and full of conveniences world that I have heard is presented by one of my favorite comedians - Louis C.K. The important warning here is that people not only take for granted the multitude of modern conveniences that allegedly make their lives more comfortable, but they also turn into completely useless organisms with no idea of how to react (other than to complain vigorously) when these modern conveniences are taken away. Just ask anyone from a developed nation who as a tourist visits a less developed country. What is even more frightening is the fact that the ‘conveniences’ people most often become enraged to lose are not even the ones that truly improve their lives. 

Watch the video and tell me Louis C.K. does not have a point…

-          Krasi

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