Opinion: Living Life Through a Screen

May 14, 2018

Technology is amazing. We have the ability to communicate with someone on the other side of the planet instantly. We don't even need to speak the same language. It can be translated for us using digital magic. We know everything, always. At any moment I can know any trivial fact with a quick Google search. I have access to any song ever recorded or if I don't know what song is playing I just say "Hey Siri, what song is this?" and have my answer. I can write my opinion on a subject and other people will read and respond. Technology is amazing.

 

​I often joke with my wife that humanity is becoming an all-knowing hive mind. At any moment I can pull my phone out of my pocket, tap on the Facebook app and know where my friends are and what their last meal was. I can scroll and see the pictures of the last concert they went to. I see pictures of that awesome vacation they took to Venice, Italy last fall. I almost feel as though I am living vicariously through other people using my phone as a tiny window into their lives.

 

​Technology is amazing, isn't it? When was the last time you went to any event and saw people enjoying each other's company? When was the last time you saw live music and didn't have to watch the show through the phone screen of the person in front of you as they recorded the show? Maybe I'm just an old man shaking my fist at the clouds, but I can't eat at a restaurant without snickering at the table next to me when someone spends more time taking photos of their food than they do eating.

 

​I know this isn't the first time you've heard someone grumble about "these darned kids today and their cell phones". I know we are all guilty of being just a little too connected sometimes. It's hard not to be when we have this amazing device in our pocket that we couldn't even imagine existing 15 years ago. When is it time to put it down and just live? I make a point to leave my phone at home when I take the kids to the beach or when I go out for a bike ride, but is that really enough?

 

​Recently I've seen the rise of the unplugged vacation for digital detoxing. These retreats range from high-end spa resorts, to African animal safaris, to camping in a yurt in remote wooded areas. The one thing they all offer is an escape from our hectic digital lives. I don't know about you, but a vacation where I don't have to worry about taking pictures of everything sounds amazing.

 

​Spending a week free from the anxiety of trying to find my next WiFi fix sounds wonderful. Actually experiencing the things I experience without the need to record and share seems to be a dream these days. A dream, yes, but an achievable one. Technology IS amazing but I challenge you, the reader, to stop always living your life through a screen and to live your life making the world around you just a little bit better.

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