Are We Too Dependent on Technology?

A few weeks ago I was in a small group session and as part of an ice-breaker, we all went around answering the question: “If there was a fire and you only had three things to grab, what would they be?” (Ironically, not one of us said our bible. Anyway. I digress.) An overwhelming majority of the answers were things like:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Laptop
  • Android
  • Tablet

I think maybe one person said photo album. (Come to think of it, I think it was my wife. Not surprised there. :) ) But the bulk of the answers were technology based. And that makes sense, right? Our contacts and schedules are on there. Who needs to save a photo album when you have all that info on your iPad, iPhone, or better yet, on the cloud. You don’t even need physical books anymore (which explains why no one grabbed their bible since about all of us use YouVision). That was my thinking. I even said as much when I shared which items I would take (my iPhone, computer, and hard drives. Yes, I know. I’m a sentimental guy. ;) )

Then the next day, I saw this film on Vimeo (it’s less than 3 min. Watch it!):

Was it a sign? I thought it was very odd that the day after I give this eloquent speech to my small group why we should all be on “the cloud” and have our important memories “protected”, I see a film about a world-wide blackout that destroys all data on earth.

Are we naive in our trust and confidence in this technology? Think about the last time your internet connection went down? How did it affect your day? Or the last time there was a blackout due to a storm? How many expletives did you hurl that day?

Are we missing something now that we’ve put everything on the cloud? Is there something lost now that instead of tactile books that you can hold and smell, you carry around a thin device that is sterile and pristine? As artists, what are we sacrificing by doing away with the feel of paper, the death of film, the joy of cutting and pasting arts and crafts?

You know me. I’m the patron saint of digital media. But I can’t help but wonder if as we become more digitally dependent, we’re losing just a little bit of our souls.

What say you?

P.S. I’m currently working on getting the filmmaker on my show. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. Don’t worry about me. I’m not having a mid-life crisis or anything. I get sentimental like this around the holidays. Next week I’m sure I’ll have some blog post encouraging you to dump paper, sign up for Dropbox, and/or to get over the death of film already. ;)

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6 Responses to “Are We Too Dependent on Technology?”

  1. Potential loss of data and our web connections are a real threat, but I thought it telling that in the film, the time relating to real people can be superseded by the need to interact with technology and data. So sad when I see couples out to dinner or a movie and they both sit interacting with their phones instead of talking to each other.

    With a recent real wake up call of the smoke alarm going off in my basement in the early morning hours, it was my dog before my 8GB Lacie external hard drive and my always packed, camera roller bag. Fortunately, only a burnt-out dehumidifier. Nice post!

    • So true Peggy. For about two years I actually did without an iPhone data plan, and it considerablly changed my level of interaction with the world (for the better). Now that I reinstated my data plan, I try as best I can to remember what I learned. It is hard sometimes though.

      Thanks for sharing.

  2. I would really love to hear what this Filmmaker has to say. Thanks.

  3. On this Thanksgiving day I feel gratitude for most all the tools created by the human race. Other than the tools of war, technology (tools) have made my live easier, more productive and more fun. I’ve spent the previous 35 years creating new things as an engineer. Some are hardware. Some are software. Some have lasted. Most have faded away. I’ve loved every minute.

    Too much of anything can be harmful. Used well, technology is a blessing. Abused and harm may result. We can’t live without water but too much and we drowned. A pencil is a tool to aid creativity, but it can also be misused to stab (Re. “The Bourne Identity”).

    If my house were burning I would first get the family out (wife, cats and dogs). Then, if time permitted, I’d grab my computer because that would also be my photo album, my creative work, my financial documentation, my social and business contacts and lots more. (Most of this is backed up off-site also. But not years of analog and digital media.)

  4. I’m in the middle of trying to figure out what to do with all my photos that I’ve collected over the years. The kids baby pictures (some digital, some not), pictures of me and my wife before we were married and after and just random moments of life. All my home movies are digital and are on multiple hard drives backed up, but the thought of one or two of them crashing has got wondering what is the best way to protect those memories. Seeing this video makes me want to make photo books and ditch the digital way, but just the other day I was just thinking of scanning all my photos and making everything digital. Definitely something worth thinking about.

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