Tomorrow’s History Lesson

Conflicting Feelings On Our Present State of Being

Do you ever find yourself taking out your phone to do something and then instinctively pull up Facebook and start browsing your friends’ photos instead, only to forget why you got out your phone in the first place?

In the book Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari the author tells us that as time passes technology will only make more and more decisions for us. Algorithms have not only affected the way we share information but the way we live our daily lives as well.

“Algorithm’ is arguably the single most important concept in our world. If we want to understand our life and our future, we should make every effort to understand what an algorithm is, and how algorithms are connected with emotions.” Noah Harari

Do our technological algorithms now run our lives instead of us running them?

Just think about it: Facebook and Google sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. I’m constantly shocked at the accuracy of ads and content catered just for me. I’ve been really creeped out at this from time to time and I’ve also found some wonderful products and classes I would have never discovered otherwise.

Technology is empowering. We can have the world at our fingertips with just the click of a mouse and the right search engine.

But are we utilizing it in the best or worst ways possible?

“Today our knowledge is increasing at breakneck speed, and theoretically we should understand the world better and better. But the very opposite is happening.” Noah Harari

There’s this cute little comic I came across one time where a man from the past travels to our day in age. He is shown the Internet by our people.

He pauses. Then he says something to the effect of,

“Let me get this straight. You have omnipotent power and knowledge at your fingertips …and you use it to glue captions onto cats?”

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good cat meme (and sometimes it’s only thing that can get me through the day, thank you Internet). I’m very grateful to live in a day in age where technology abounds in fun and exciting ways but at the same time I understand there’s a level of social pressure that comes with it all.

Though e-mail and texting are cheaper and faster ways of communicating, they carry a level of responsibility, particularly on the receiver’s end.

Boss just sent an e-mail? You better respond so you don’t get fired. No response from the husband? Maybe he’s dead. Another text from that funny friend? Sorry but you can’t take a few days to formulate the perfect reply back to them…

My husband and I once went on a retreat where they told us we were not allowed to have our phones out at all. They kept calling it “a gift” and I kept thinking it sounded more like “a punishment.”

Then the retreat started.

I climbed a hill. I saw the city below me. Mother Nature was the only one around me talking. I was alone with my thoughts and for the first time I could hear things inside of myself I didn’t even know were there before.

And once the retreat was done I had this weird battle of emotions happening inside me. I felt a burst of gratitude in being able to check my phone messages again, many of which I needed to address immediately. I also simultaneously had a yearning to head back into the retreat with it’s maybe-not-so-ridiculous no-phones-allowed policy.

It got me thinking…

Could I, by pure choice, go a day without my mobile phone if I really wanted to? Do I really have to go on a retreat to feel like I can safely step away from my technology?

I really feel like happiness is found somewhere in the middle of this all, with a perfect balance between dependency and enhancement from our present state of technology. But is this achievable? How so?

If you have any thoughts on the matter I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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