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Think back to the last time you got through a whole day without using any kind of technology. I’m sure it’s been a fair while as it has been for me. Whilst sitting in the cold, bitter darkness and reading books by candlelight might sound like a dream come true for a few, that’s a Victorian extreme which would we wasted on the majority of us. Technology is a big part of modern society, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Well, yes but hear me out.
There’s a constant competition to have the latest, most impressive, “life changing” gadget. Even if you’re outdated again in 6 months, you can show off some of the latest features for a while until you’re inevitably behind the times again. Taking the iPhone for example, some of its applications are genuinely beneficial in terms of everyday life. I’m writing this piece on a word app, using the Internet to look at technologies and staying in touch with my editor via Facebook and email – all at my fingertips (not to mention watching Gavin and Stacey in HD on my wee Kindle). There’s games to tie you down and kill some time, maps and guides, as well as hotel reviews and holiday information for trips and endless reams of shopping apps to fritter away all of your money before you even see it. It’s not all fun and games though (well it sort of is), as once the battery has run out, you find yourself going cold turkey and inevitably start to feel lost. You’re so disconnected from the world, having almost forgotten what real people look and sound like, then you realise in a moment of disorientation that these smartphones and tablets are taking over your life.
Two days after I finished my degree, whilst on the phone (upgrading to an iPhone, ironically), my laptop decided to explode. I’m talking real life char marks and blue sparks, fatally wounded after four years of constant use. My sentimental heart was broken. Years of silly pictures and university work lost, all my forgotten password emails and music (oh god, my music) gone forever. But in reality nobody had died, so why was it the biggest tragedy since my parents revealed the truth about my unfortunate rabbit? It was a blessing in disguise that I’d finished all of my university work, so I figured I’d use my spare time to read more books (and this time, not on my Kindle). Flitting through those pages and losing myself in new stories is amazing, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve lost something: a part of me I can function without but will miss – like a thumb or my spleen. As much as I don’t want to, I can’t help but side with the techie crew. Technological breakthroughs are rife and they are outstanding, often proving beneficial to so many. It’s no surprise then that there’s a severe decrease in interest regarding “old school” fun.
Maybe it’s because the outside is such a scary place to be nowadays. No, I’m not a 73 year old widow or a super queer game nerd, but I do think ‘the world’ is significantly more dangerous than it used to be. If kids aren’t being run over, they’re being snatched off the streets. Call that paranoia, but it’s all around us as children no longer play outside on their own. There are angry yobs happy slapping their peers (not watching the news since 2008 might’ve marred my judgement slightly) and to many, the option to stay inside is far more appealing.
The internet might be seen as dangerous, but I would happily pick watching a video of someone popping a huge spot over a potential mugging any day. You can live an entirely separate e-life and an article on this wonderful website concerning life after Facebook hit the nail honestly, awkwardly and accurately on its head. Regardless, it upsets me that archaic, sentimental ways are being forgotten and ignored. My mum lives for the days she receives letters and parcels from her pen pal of 30+ years. There’s a typewriter waiting for me at home and I’m growing my own herb garden – who needs an iPhone? (n.b. everyone)
It’s crucial not to forget the little things. You might be able to look at a “well” edited picture of some flowers, or a sunset on Instagram, but it’s just not the same as the real thing. Whilst the internet might make it easier to ‘explore’, you should mix things up once in a while. Leave your room. Go outside and have a walk around town. Get some air in those lungs and enjoy the finer things in life, even if that finer thing is a beer a burger and some conversation. Just a taste of life that isn’t on a screen. Just remember to bring your camera. After all, you can’t enjoy something without telling your friends and followers how fantastic your life is, can you? Heaven forbid.