More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Race Against the Machines

I read this really interesting article in The Age newspaper called Race Against the Machines written by David Flynn. The article talks about how we're nearly slaves to our machines. The "always on" technology drives us to act immediately to every new situation and neglect real life events around us. For example, he gives this fake scenario

"You're sitting in front of your laptop downloading all those photos you took with your digital camera over the holidays, and because your notebook has wireless internet access you hear that little "ding" and see a pop-up saying a new email has arrived.

So you flick over to have a quick look and then a friend says "Hi!" on an instant messenging program, before you can reply the mobile rings but you know that even if you ignore the call it will go to voicemail so you can call them back later, and if you're getting out of breath by now imagine how you'd feel if you did this all day every day plus evenings and weekends."

I for one, can say that situation is very plausible. I admit that I'm slightly hooked to the technology. For instance, I've been known to be sitting here writing my blog, having three conversations over msn, trying to carry a conversation on the mobile and replying to emails. One friends checks his work email every half hour from home, while another is on the net all day.

The ability for everything to be immediate means we get trapped into trying to do everything at once. I know at work I have the email alert turned on so I get that "ding" when there is new mail. Most times I will look at the email right away and reply to it. I also check my other mail accounts each day as well, "in case I miss anything." What would I have done in the days before the internet and email. Also I'm a tragic who has to carry their mobile phones everywhere. If I get a missed call without a number, I think "who would call me" and worry I may have missed something. But really, if the call was important they will call back.

I guess I'm one of the growing number of people who not only use technology but rely on it quite heavily. What is it that drives us to be this way? Is it the fear that we will miss something and hence our lives will be less rich. As David Flynn writes

"An increasing number of critics believe we are paying too heavy a price for our digital lifestyles - that our dependence on always-on technology is killing our private lives. If it sometimes seems that the technology meant to help you live a richer life has itself moved to centre stage and sucked up all those hours it was supposed to free up".

So next time your out at dinner with good friends and the mobile phone rings, either answer it quickly and say you'll call them back later or better still, switch off the phone to begin with. I'm mean you're already at dinner with good friends, so why waste that time talking on the phone to someone else who probably isn't as important.


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