Is technology freeing us or wasting our time?

computersI am old enough to remember when everyone didn’t have a computer.  When keeping touch meant talking on the phone, or writing a letter, or actually meeting people (yes I know!).  Also entertainment was three TV channels or the radio, or a board game.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not a closet Luddite wishing to bury my head in the sand or turn back the clock to a ‘simpler age’ whenever that was.  But, sometimes I just wonder.

Like it or not when it comes to technology most of us are followers of fashion or trends.  We do what we are told we should be doing.  And yes I’m as bad (or good?) as anyone.  I adopt some of it because I know if I didn’t I’d just get left behind.  But some of it is definitely because I have fallen for the ‘you must have this for your life to be complete’ story.   I just find myself asking what is it actually doing for me, other than providing an efficient way of parting me with my money? Or soaking up my time?  I started to list the pro’s and con’s in the hope that being more aware of these would make me more productive, but as I began the more I learnt that there were two sides to everything:

  1. You can’t live without it.

Not a ‘pro’ perhaps, but a fact.  Or least you can’t if you want to feel connected to the rest of the world.  It is everywhere you turn, there are chips in everything.  That has to be good, doesn’t it, helping you?

  1. Keeping connected

Has to be a big plus surely?  I have relations in Australia.  My niece is on facebook, I would have little contact with her if it wasn’t for that.  I Skype my brother, it’s easy.

The downside of all this connectivity is of course there is so much of it.  I’m on facebook, twitter and pinterest.  I’m resisting others because these already take up too much of my time (I think).  It’s all interesting, but distracting.  The other downside is that perhaps we see people less, we don’t ‘talk’ to them as much.  We sit at our desks and the world comes to us rather than us getting out there.

I also wonder if there is a danger of living other peoples lives rather than getting on with own.

  1. Shopping

I must admit I use this a lot.  Order one day have it delivered the next.  No parking, no trailing round to just find out that some shop doesn’t stock it, or they’ve run out.  Also it’s not just what any particular shop might have, in a nearby town, it’s whatever I want when I want it.

But again there is almost too much choice.  How do I know what the best one is?  I used to choose from a few things, now it’s thousands.  On the time wasting front there is so much advice out there on any product and there’s always something new just round the corner.

  1. It’s all out there.

As a writer I’m always on the look-out for good advice, new ways of doing things.  A quick google search, or a troll though twitter will provide almost anything you want to know.

In the past I might have a few well-chosen books on a subject.  But now a quick search etc. will reveal thousands of articles/blogs/books.  So now you’re faced with choosing and trying to decide what is good advice and what is not?  A lot of it is just opinion, and you’ve still got read it before you can decide.  And because there is so much of it…

  1. Time

walking-1This for me is at the heart of it.  In 1. I say we can’t live without it and we can’t.  Much of it is supposed to take the drudgery out of our lives, to free us up to do the things we really want to do.  But if you’re not careful it does the exact opposite.  I’ve said many times before that twitter can be a huge distraction, there’s always something new for the enquiring mind.  Then there’s all the videos of cats etc. being posted on facebook.  You can get instant answers or advice, but there are so many.  And I haven’t even mentioned games.

So what is the bottom line?  For me I should have added to my 2015 resolutions to use all this tech ‘wisely’ or is it more ‘sparingly’.  Maybe I should keep a diary of how much time I waste online, and I do mean waste rather than using it to help me achieve some specific end.  I suspect it would frighten me.  So are we better for it?  I’m not so sure, but as I’ve said above we can’t live without it.

Ever feel trapped or bamboozled by it all?  Let me know,

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

4 thoughts on “Is technology freeing us or wasting our time?”

  1. Thanks for this insightful post. I’m always pondering this question for I’d rather be writing than spending time on ‘technology’. As you pointed out, though it has its pluses, it also has its negatives such as taking up too much time.
    Thanks for sharing! Love your posts: following you on twitter now.
    Cheers! S.J. Francis

If you have a view on this, let me know: