Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Growing Self Awareness of Technology Overload

Wordle: Too Much Information
A Word Cloud  Explaining How I feel
     This holiday season I am really overloaded by technology, so much so it's making my head hurt and I feel both annoyed, confused and conflicted by the media messaging coming at me from all directions.  I see and feel all the beautiful images and implied lifestyle of ultmate media experience.  I see families sitting in contemporary styled living rooms watching large flatscreens, heads bent down looking at tablets, laptops.  All together they appear it seems, but in actuality so far apart from one another.  I don't buy what I'm seeing in the advertising because I'm living in a media overload nightmare.  I think it's a tip of a proverbial socio-cultural iceberg. 
     I'm surrounded by screens of various sizes and shapes.  I'm uncomfortable seeing so many friends and family uncontrollably it seems bent over tablets, itouches, laptops vaguely interacting with one another, not making clear eye, mumbling answers to questions down to the screen but not across the room to the person asking the question.  If this is togetherness and family time why does my skin crawl ever so little sometimes when I look across to see a loved one head down on a screen, body in place, mind and focus elsewhere.
     I can't be the only one feeling a little weird about this can I?  I know all of this great cool tech at least in the commercials, web and multi-media advertising has us all living in a super happy fantasy world of better lives etc.  But is it really making us better people?  Do we know how to do things like basic communication, like....talking to one another?  I know that after a long day working on my architectural work surrounded by screens at my desk, where I frequently post strategic updates to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, flitting around doing work related research I feel a bit scattered. 
     In the last year or so, have you tried reading a newspaper article or picked up a magazine and tried reading an indepth piece, quickly realizing you can't because you're still scanning the pages like they were on a screen and you can't settle down to actually read like you used to.  I have.  Often.  I feel all of this tech and my unwitting behavior with it has led me to a self-created attention deficit disorder.   
     Backing up a little, let's set some context. In our home bookshelves we have an old children's book from the 1950's or so espousing the glamourous miracles of the technology then called television.  Looking at its simple colored illustrations showing how the technology worked, explaining the complex and mysterious ideas of programs of various kinds being beamed over airwaves into people's living rooms seems quaint today.  Often books like this or Norman Rockwell paintings depict entire family's sitting around a living room, a barber shop, restuarant or bar looking at a single TV or listening to a radio.