Turn on, tune in, then what? Tech influencers on 21st centry life

Making peace with our technology Photo: The young and the tech

SANTA CRUZ, September 25, 2013 — Every day we are surrounded by technology. Its 24 hour presence affects just about every facet of human life. At times, it feels as if we are living in a golden age of knowledge and entertainment while, conversely, it can seem like it is all too much, cloying, overwhelming, stifling.

Has our culture reached its tehcnology peak? 

For most people, the challenge lies in utilizing the wondrous products and dizzying technological advances available to them all while retaining their ability to live and interact among their fellows.

When a phone, tablet or computer becomes a surrogate for true, interpersonal relationships, there might be a deeper problem. When a person’s reality becomes a delusional canvas of electronic sound and images, created solely by the user, that person is in danger of retreating, perhaps irretrievably, from the human race.

The people and companies who drive technology do so because of human nature. There is something primal about pushing forward and being unsatisfied with the status quo. From the first group of people who, years ago, wondered what lay over the next mountain and set out to discover it, humans have always reached further, aimed higher, and questioned what was possible.

Innovation is the unavoidable result of these ingrained traits and one of its dubious gifts is the proliferation of gadgets we are confronted with today.

How one uses the available technology can dictate how happy they are. As much as it can serve to bring people together and shrink the world, it can also isolate us and allow us to distance ourselves from each other.

It becomes about application and moderation rather than supplanting our former real lives and replacing them with completely fabricated digital ones. It is a delicate balance.

The next time you are at a restaurant with friends or coworkers, suggest that everyone silence their phones and arrange them all in a neat stack at the center of the table. The first person who cracks and just has to check their phone has to pay the dinner bill.

If you go to a movie, try not only silencing your phone but shutting it all the way off. Nobody should be pulling out their phone for any reason at a movie theater. The fact that people still do it proves how Pavlovian we have become regarding our technology. 

If it is a day where you are not expecting an important call or email, try turning the ringer and vibrate functions off on your phone. Leave it in your purse, pocket, or wherever and go throughout your day as if it was not there.

The biggest urge to check our phones is when we see others doing it, do your best to resist the compulsion. Talk with someone older than you, maybe a parent, who was around before all of this stuff. Ask them what they did with their time, how they kept busy.

The answers you get might surprise and enlighten you.

Technology is fantastic. Its ability to inform, connect and delight us is truly magical but, as is true with many of life’s commodities, moderation is the key. Always remember that humans need regular interaction with each other to maintain a balance of sanity.

Being able to maintain friendships with people on the other side of the world who we will likely never meet is cool, but let us not forget to acknowledge the person standing right in front of us.

Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.

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Russ Rankin

Santa Cruz, California native Russ Rankin is the vocalist for the seminal California punk band Good Riddance, the hard rock band Only Crime as well as currently performing original songs as a solo artist. Rankin is a dedicated vegan, an avid animal rights advocate, a political activist and has been a regular columnist for AMP Magazine and New Noise Magazine as well as contributing to various magazines such as Alternative Press, Razorcake and others. 

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