Reality Check: The Effects of Technology Overdose

by - Sunday, April 12, 2015

It all started with a spoonful; from that tiny Window flickering on the screen followed by the evolution of telephones to the very first mobile phone; a phone that one could hold in their hands and is personal to the owner.

Computer and mobile phones probably were the earliest in that first taste of technology fed to us, in that teaspoon - make that a tablespoon (a teaspoon would be too small to hold huge vintage items; back then the computers and mobile phones were not exactly lightweight nor slim)

I did not come from the generation of super computers; which, by the way, are the very first generation of computers.
Think huge computers which today we might call data centers or servers.
I am not that old, no offense meant to anyone for that matter.

I consider myself quite privileged, to be frank, to be born in that era where I have seen that glimpse of the last of the early boomers in the computer technology and also the birth and continuous developmental growth along with the evolution of technology.
I may not be as young as the most recent generation, where social media is already invading the world of technology but I am not complaining either.
I think I can speak on behalf of my generation; we are definitely proud to be born in that era, as we are that unique batch of in-betweeners bearing witness to the transition of technology to its present domination of the world.
We are that batch where we were already exposed to that bit of technology, and sufficiently pampered by its benefits in moderation.
I did not have to go through the time when electricity meant lighting candles and oil lamps, or fetching water from the wells located a few stones away from home and radio shows were really anticipated.
Not that it is a bad thing, the people who came from that era are somewhat more resilient too, and they do not complain at hardships or when things do not go their way.
Technology has certainly settled in my time, and in a way, it grew along with me as well.

I remembered using telephones when I had to call my friends to chat.
I am referring to the rotating dial (the punch buttons were the cooler versions back then) and we see the black cables in swirling coil patterns attached to that phone, limiting that distance we could go while talking on the phone. Yes, there is only so much length the cable could stretch and if the home telephone was placed in the living room (which they always are), you are to remain in the living room, talking to your friends under full watch by your parents, siblings or family members.
Privacy meant cupping the part of the phone you speak into and lowering your voice.
It is a conspiracy, and a ploy staged by parents to keep tabs on their children and parental guidance, was definitely straight to the book.

We had landlines and when we fill in the forms, the space where you are required to fill in Home Telephone number or Office Number is never left blank.
Making an appointment requires one to convey all the details of the venue, time and date clearly in that one conversation with the other party and confirmation is made on the spot.
Changing/cancelling is not viable in less than two hours' time because people may not be reachable then.
Cancellations would probably be only applicable if you were to do it 24 hours before, make it 48 hours (just in case).
Careful thoughts are being put into making arrangements to meet up or even to talk to an important customer, because time and cost are taken in consideration.
Children are told to wait at schools at a certain time, and they stand there, right at that very spot promised sharp on the dot (or even earlier, for some paranoids like me) for their parents or school buses to pick up.
Communication via any form of connection (such as telephones) were not common, and are extremely valued for it is almost like signing a contract; sealing a deal and once the phone is put down, any change requires redialing back.
Public telephones were like what free wifi and hotspots are today; finding one in a location where you are means you can call someone - a parent, or a friend while you are just, you know, hanging out, or informing them that your practice is extended by an additional hour.
Imagine the horror and frustration when you find that the phone, which you were so excited at its discovery, was not working.
Panic sink in and ideas run through your head to figure out a way to contact your parents to inform them of changes. I even have classmates who used to run all the way home to tell his mum that we have practice after school. Good for them that their houses were just nearby, though it was also a good workout for them at the same time to burn that extra calories.
(Well, there were never that much issue to deal with extra calories, as far as I can remember. Nobody was really obese or sedentary, anyway).

That was part of my early memories, then we enjoyed the arrival of computers.
Personal computers were like the cool trend then, and computer classes were highly sought after.
Our first introduction to social media was probably messenger, and then that time of MSN, Yahoo, and of course, that ICQ/IRC which was suddenly drawing everyone to their computers like drugs.
There is just that something exciting about chatting with strangers, with quirky online nicknames and the mystery shrouding their identities.
The Internet and WWW linked everyone around the world, and you could even find yourself chatting with someone from the other side of the world (where you have never even been to, for that fact).
Instant messaging and online chatrooms were the new era of pen pals (yes, remember that time when you write letters and actually post them to people seeking for new friends in newsletters you subsribe to? Oh never mind...)
The capabilities of the Internet seemed infinite and the world was taken by this exciting new possibility of high connectivity like a sudden storm, or a whirlwind.
As the Internet grew more and more powerful in its advantages and benefits to mankind, so did the risks and dangers rose simultaneously.
Pedophiles and online predators were on the prowl for innocent and believing people, and the authorities had to quickly step in with the introduction of cyber law to combat well, cyber crimes.

Internet was a growing sensation and introduced countless possibilities; in a way, also making it possible for many people to find business and job opportunities. Information technology and computer knowledge made its way and quickly found its own base among the technology enthusiasts, and websites start to make their way into the web sphere.
Think of websites like shops you would see on the roadsides or in malls; and snap, in a blink of an eye, we hear online businesses or e-commerce, Internet based enterprises seeping into that revolution.

While the intangible grew in its battalion of force, so did the tangible, which was supposed to be the hosting device, or the portal to bring the intangible to life anyway.
I am talking about the devices; the computers.
Personal computers were bulky monitors (CRTs) connected with that few colored cables to a rectangular box beside it; which is the brain, the CPU we call it and they were just so precious.
Monitor screens evolved to slimmer and higher resolutions, and the processor/CPU became smaller in size but higher in memory capacity.
Personal computers were slowly sidelined by laptops; where one can carry around with them wherever they go.
It was a luxury back then, and those who were in the computer/technology related field were the only ones entitled to the laptop for work.
Prices for laptops were high, and those who could afford one and are seen with one at libraries or cafes are looked upon with much envy.

Today laptops have evolved to handhelds, and mobile phones are no longer brick-like cellulars but actually resemble a real cell phone which is actually supposedly so. (It is called cell/mobile or handphone for a reason, and not weigh a ton that makes one seem like they have put on an additional kg when they walk around with them in the pocket).
Mobile phones are no longer just for answering calls and text messages; in fact, the term mobile has extended to include functions from the computers and laptops into their tinier chips (getting tinier and thinner by the way); which allow the loading of information all packed neatly to appear on that slightly smaller screens (on its way to grow in its size).
Having information and knowledge at your fingertips finally sprung to life and its worth, literally speaking.

The rapid speed of the progression of technology is truly breathtaking, and it is as though in a blink of an eye, everything has just transformed into a world of digitization. It is really just like in a blink, or that pause between breaths and suddenly everything is about applications and how savvy you are with what's in and what's not.
Everyone around you has a Facebook account, and posts religiously on them.
When they first came into the picture, they were like invaders and some people I know even brushed them aside, as though they were not welcomed, at all.
Yes, they were fairly unpopular and were treated as that pirated version of Friendster; which was the main social networking site, or rather, the pioneer of the social networking sites alongside counterparts like High5, Multiply, etc.
(Do you still remember the Friendster era? Speaking of which, they are almost on the edge of obsolescence now?)

Facebook is now the daily oxygen; despite its ambiguous start and everyone is active on this social networking site which has come to settle in our lives so seamlessly that it seemed that they could no longer live without it. It is as I say, almost equivalent to the air that we breathe in, and almost everyone (yeah almost) logs into Facebook once a day.
Facebook kicked off the games, applications which engaged each other following its success in connecting people all around the world - whether they knew each other or not. Of course, the best part is we stay connected with our old and long lost friends whom we have not met or do not even meet on a regular basis, but we are kept posted on their lives and even of their loved ones.
People are soon interacting regularly via mobile applications; from networking sites to instant messaging/chat applications such as Whatsapp, Line, WeChat, and the list goes on.

The tablespoon of technology has turned into daily vitamins; or multivitamins which kept everyone hooked and consume on a regular basis.
It seemed healthy; after all, it is keeping everyone connected and even rekindled old friendships and relationships and brought that joy or spark of reuniting with everyone we crossed paths altogether, all over mobile network and Wifi.
Cables are bordered by wireless options which quickly won by landslide victory as people are all connected without the hassle of dragging your black ugly cables around you everywhere you go.
It is certainly not a pretty sight when you are taking the public transportation.
Technology is seeping into our lives; like multivitamins and dietary supplement which became a requirement for one to be part of the new era and contemporary society.

Eyebrows would be raised if you did not have a Facebook account, and be prepared to answer interrogatory questions such as "Why/How could you not have Facebook? Everyone has it!"
You may be even treated like society outcasts if you are ignorant of the existence of technology.
Almost everyone has their own mobile phone and their personal number, and having that home telephone number which you mention to your friend to call because you do not have a mobile phone may even lead to alienation. Even young schoolchildren have their own mobile phones, go figure.

Everyone is so connected and interacting via technology and social media platforms grow like wild mushrooms; spreading faster than wildfires. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without technology.

Technology has done much to improve our lives; undeniably and everyone benefits from the evolution of technology.
We are more connected than before, and reaching someone takes no more effort than just a click or a touch on the screen.
Everyone is easily accessible and finding someone is no longer an arduous task; granted one is 'listed' on the Internet. That new age Mr Know-it-All, now has a name familiar to almost every single breathing person on the planet; and gave birth to a company which paves way for one of the most coveted positions for one to be in. If you do not know Google and you are actually on the Internet right now, you have some serious catching up and education to work on.

The evolution of technology has settled in so beautifully in our lives that the transition was barely visible to the naked eyes and just in that instant, the world is suddenly all connected and it seemed that technology had always been there.
No one could imagine the state we were in before technology even existed; and by that, it is perfectly logical for those born in the recent years to harbor such perception but even those who were born way before seemed to have gotten so accustomed that they could not imagine the days (and ways) they survived without Internet. I mean, we, as well.
Internet gave rise to social media and provided that form of entertainment and even offered that opportunity of fame and instant gratification to every individual through postings and self-portraits on their personal accounts. Initially shared to only their own friends and family members, the interwoven architecture of the connectivity of the Internet reached out to people connected to their circle and bam, one could end up with an instant surge in their views of their photos or even self-made videos.
Opportunities rose for everyone to share their opinions and their skills to attract potential employers and even to catch the eyes of those in the entertainment industry.
Almost everyone is hoping for that chance to land among the stars, someday.

It was positive and electrifying; this wave of response towards the presence and growth of technology and spread like an epidermic. What started out as a connection soon became more than just a connection; everyone is attached to their devices and that 'mode of connection'.
Everywhere we go, we see people around us walking around with their heads low; not because they were depressed but focused on that little screen in their palms, engrossed in messages or profiles of others they were in communication with. Technology has seeped into their lives and it has grown on them; that it is now a habit, a part of their lives.
It was briefly exciting, but soon, we see attention being detracted from daily routines to social media and the Internet a little more than it should.
Family dinner conversations could last fewer words compared to texts composed on instant messages sent to each other, and sometimes, there would be no words exchanged as almost everyone at the table are bent on replying messages or just staring at their phones or handheld devices.
Even at work, employees could be caught logging onto their Facebook accounts, Twitter, or any personal social media networks in between working time (not just break/lunch hours alone).

That daily dose of recommended health supplement soon became more in dosage; and it seemed that this supplement which was supposed to help to improve health soon became more than just a supplement.
It seemed to have become part of the daily and essential diet.
It has become an addiction; and worse, an obsession.
It has taken that turn towards the direction of the impact of drugs; and it seemed that one could even crave for just one dose, or even more.
That taste has simply enticed and lured them to lust for more; just like drugs.

How often do you check your phone, or even glance at that screen, for that matter?
Can you even accept not having a mobile phone?
Can you walk out of your home without your mobile phone, and just leave it at home, for just one day?
(I bet most can't even stand being away from their phone; not having them in their bag/pocket for even an hour without feeling restless)
Do you look for wifi or Internet connection when you land in some foreign land, or even walk into a cafe?
Can you even have a mobile phone without a data plan to ensure you are connected at all times?
Are you at ease when you realized that you are in an area and there is no Internet connection for the next few days?
Of course, there's also that circle outside Internet and that form of technology which is already part of our lives

Will you be fine without a television in your home, at all? (Imagine 365 days without television)?
Or a water heater in your bathroom?
Or even an air-conditioning unit when it is almost 40 degrees Celsius out there?
Can you also live without your washing machine, or your refrigerator?

Is it just a dose of technology to help improve our lives, or have we grown obsessed or dependent on them?
Are we latched to our devices all the time?
Can we handle not logging into our Facebook or most used social media accounts for a fixed period of time? (Make that a very long time)
Can we handle just washing our clothes with our own hands; including heavy duty materials such as bedsheets, blankets, and such?

Are we truly taking our healthy dosage or are we addicted to the extent that we can no longer live without them?
We cannot even imagine surviving without the existence of technology anymore.
It is like drugs, and currently we are high on that overdose and it just keeps us craving and hungry for more (and more).
We cannot tear ourselves away from technology; it is like that blood flowing in our veins and that supply of oxygen we breathe on.
It is that vital system making up part of us and take that away sounds far-fetched and even bringing upon conception of near fatality.
It is that serious.

But are the effects truly doing more good than harm to our lives?
We may be more connected than ever, and perhaps far more knowledgeable with that wide accessibility to the information available on the Internet.
We get more chores done in lesser time and with better results, maybe?
However, being dependent on technology could also lead to detrimental real survival skills, or worse, actual living skills?

Do we still actually communicate in person; face to face or talk to someone on the phone?
(Talking is real-life interaction; not via chat/messaging apps)
Do we know how to look up information or do our research without Google?
How do we actually find our way around anymore on the road, without Waze or Google maps?
Can you read a real drawn map?

It is interesting to ponder on how much we have come to depend on technology, and as I have mentioned, more than just that simple life-enhancing supplement.
Rather, technology seems to have seeped into the major organs of our lives and taken that center stage of being the pulse of survival.
Like supplements, moderation would be healthy but an overdose, could lead to addiction and drug abuse.
Are we all truly becoming technology addicts?
What does this mean of humanity in the future?

Addiction over time, and further developments in technology, will this bring more harm than good?

I don't know, but anything on the overdose, is never promising...a food for thought, maybe?








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