2013 seemed to be the year of the mobile tablet: Apple iPad, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy and more. Technology and its devices are creeping more and more into our bedrooms and living rooms, our purses and pockets, and the rest of our lives. So what does 2014 have in store for us?
For those of you who have been following my blog, you might know that I am not anti-technology but I am a cheerleader for putting it down for a while in order to better connect with our bodies, our loved ones and with nature (check out Put your hands up & step away from the iPad!). My ideas about this were challenged when I recently saw Spike Jonze’ new movie, Her.
In the movie, “A lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson) that’s designed to meet his every need.” I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the writer develops serious feelings for his operating system (OS) which helps pull him out of his post-divorce malaise. The OS gets him talking about his thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, and even gets him out of the house. (Who needs friends or a therapist when you have an OS like this?!)
While I sat in the theater I considered my own ideas about current cultures relationship to technology (social media in particular), and compared it to the messages in the film. I do see how technology and social media help connect people through ideas and common interests, and how it helps isolated people (such as a queer teen in a small town or a house bound person in the city) feel less alone. But I also have concerns about how it can create a barrier to true human contact, intimacy and authenticity. The reports of cyber-bullying and how much time people spend texting instead of talking saddens me. I’ve heard people say “I feel like I’ve lost a part of my body!” when they have lost their smart phone. Jonze did a great job of showing many sides of these cultural ideas about human connection and our relationship to technology.
So ask yourself, Is my relationship with my tablet/smart phone helping or hindering my life? In the end I think my answer to this question is the same to many about addictive behaviors: bring mindfulness and moderation to your use and find out. Bringing consciousness, intention and thoughtfulness to all of our actions is important. And watching our level of frequency or consumption to make sure we are not over-dosing and neglecting other important parts of our well-being is also important. I believe that balance will be different for each of us.