We’re not obsessed with technology, we just live with it.
Travelling into London everyday, it’s easy to believe that we’re all obsessed with technology. Train carriages filled with people gazing deeply into screens, ignoring the world outside the window, and their fellow passengers. Social situations are increasingly interrupted by smart phone interventions, and we continue to teach ‘bots’ how to perform more complex tasks. People are very rarely seen without a device of some sort, and our homes are filled with furniture that is slowly becoming connected. We’ve moved this ‘always on’ mentality forward, accepting that we will always be with our devices, through wearable tech. Products like the Nike Fuel band and Google Glass encourage us to spend all of our time with technology, as they help us perform everyday tasks.
Despite all this, wearable technology suggests a turning point. We’ve lived with technological devices (in the modern sense) for a few decades now, our infatuation pushing research and development into rapid growth. And that’s exactly my point. We used to be obsessed with technology. We didn’t know what the internet was when it was first introduced, but a handful of people thought it could be cool and played with it for a few years. It was a time when our idea of technology was placed far into the future, when life would be different, and we would have jetpacks.
Now, we’re comfortable with it. We accept that certain technologies are all around us and - on the whole - they make life a little bit easier. It’s easy to criticise the screen-folk and say that they’re passively staring into a glowing rectangle, but this suggests that they aren’t actually doing anything. When we’re in our techno-trance, we’re busy. We could be searching, watching, reading, talking, playing; but either way we’re doing something. We’re no longer obsessed with the technology as objects, but instead we’re constantly using them as tools to facilitate connectivity and communication. And this makes me think of Patrick Burgoyne’s talk that I mentioned previously, “Everything changes, everything stays the same”. As humans, all we’ve ever really cared about were tools and communication. They’re the things that make us different, the things that help us grow, and that has never really changed.
Whether or not this slow acceptance of ubiquitous connectivity is a good thing is a completely different argument. Either way it seems to me that we are not just looking at screens and fetishising gadgets any more, but starting to look through them instead.