Is technology changing our lives too much?

March 12, 2013

Al Gini

In the last 10 years, the electronic age has us totally interconnected. Social networking of all kinds – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Socialcam, texting, platforms such as iPads, iPhones, smartphones and computers of all kinds.

These tools have forever altered the normal concept of time and space. They have replaced it with an immediacy that has taken on a life of its own. All of us are now no more than a click away from communicating with everyone we have ever met or known in real or virtual time.

Thanks to the wild, wild word of the web, we can be anywhere and everywhere with the stroke of a key or click of a mouse.

In essence, what all of this has done is to radically change the pace and rate of our lives. Not only are we bombarded with more input, information and data than ever before, we are now required or at least strongly expected to respond to it faster than ever before. At one level, the increased pace and rate of change is a good thing. It forces us to be more agile, more responsive, more adaptable to an ever-evolving world. It opens us to more options and possibilities.

On the other hand, the increased rate and speed of input and change is exhausting. Here’s the problem. When life becomes an Olympic endurance event (the Everydayathon), when the stopwatch is always ticking, when are we supposed to have fun?

When will there be a time to be human in the old fashioned way? As Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, professor of leisure studies, so aptly put it, “Having to go so fast to keep up, we miss stuff-our existence is truncated. Some things simply cannot be done going full speed: love, sex, conversation, food, family friends, nature. In the whirl, we are less capable of appreciation, enjoyment, sustained concentration, sorrow, memory.”

I think, if we can be honest with ourselves, we all do too much or try to do too much. My mother used to accuse me of having “eyes bigger than my stomach.”

She told me that I both literally and figuratively put too many things on my plate.

“Alfredó,” she’d say, “you do too much. Slow down, take smaller bites, or you’re not going to enjoy anything. Piano, piano arrive sano!” (Slowly, slowly, and you’ll get there surely, safely!)

You know what, maybe we should all slow down, take a moment, and reflect on the wisdom of my mother’s words. It couldn’t hurt.