Technology is a huge buzzword these days. Developed countries are big on tech, developing countries want to grow big on tech. But is technology the answer to our most common problems? I know for sure that there are more important, traditional tools that we can use to tackle major problems.
I use an iPhone 4 which costed me about 35k back in 2011. It must have fallen on the floor 52 times. When it does, my dad gets a stroke. So I’ve often considered switching to a cheaper Nokia phone which can be flung all over the place without batting an eyelid.
Sure, I might not be able to play games or use the millions of apps with speed. I might not be able to check Facebook every minute. I probably won’t be connected with people all over the globe. But I would definitely spend more time with my family during dinners, movies, generally, instead of staying glued on the phone. You know, connect with people near me.
I recently shifted to Hapur, a small dusty town in Western UP from Delhi, the capital of India. However, making a mental shift was more difficult than a physical one. When I began working, I relied on fancy To-Do apps such as Trello, my iPhone and Mac while people around me used the good old notepad and pen to get stuff done. In the process of learning and using such high technology, and also asking others to learn them for the reason that it will be easy to scale up in the future, I was actually asking for too much. Where a simple diary with a daily to do list would suffice, I was asking co-workers to rely on advanced applications.
The essential thing – getting things done – was being missed out!
Technology is good. But technology is dangerous. It has shadowed all aspects of our lives. I often feel lost and dumbed without my smartphone. Is that a good thing? Isn’t it like that story we read as kids in which a king had put his life in a parrot so that he wouldn’t die or something like that? Aren’t we steadily putting our brains inside our phones?
Thanks to Google, I had stopped relying on common sense for moving around, increasingly using GPS for finding my way. But I’ve begun checking the habit and now when I’m driving/walking around, I rely more on common sense and the help of strangers. Yes, time taken increases but more often than not, I end up taking an totally unexpected adventure. In addition, my sense of direction has improved which has helped me become independent.
Thanks to Facebook and Whatsapp, all I needed to do to keep in touch with old friends was drop in a “What’s up” every once in a while. But there was hardly any depth in my conversations. That was leading to stupid, meaningless, painful relationships that felt like a burden.
Of course, for an older generation, these high tech tools are often of helps when their natural senses begin to age. My parents are always fascinated when I use SoundHound to find the name of a song playing on the radio or when I pinpoint exact directions to a place using Google Maps when we are on a holiday. As a matter of fact, my dad has become a WhatsApp addict, sending good morning messages to lots of friends and family, hence keeping in touch.
Even in places such as Bihar and UP, the general population wants more luxury, comfort and relaxation, little realising that the very things that they buy for relaxation leads to more stress.
Living in a small town, on a small budget, practicing Buddhism diligently is teaching me invaluable lessons. They are teaching me “values” which will guide me through thick and thin. I am realising that an ideal human being should be a compassionate problem solver. One who takes all with him, and solves problems every day, small or big.
Last edit: 27th Dec, 2014